Feast of the Ascension Reflection
Solemnity of the Ascension
May 21, 2020
Today’s feast is normally celebrated on Thursday 40 days after Easter. In some parts of the country, it has been moved to the following Sunday. This year, it would be celebrated on Sunday, May 24. It reminds us that we are approaching the end of the Easter season and soon will be celebrating the great Feast of Pentecost. The Feast not only speaks about the Risen Lord in his Glory but also about who we are as Church and what we are called to do.
The Readings for the Solemnity are: Acts 1: 1-11, Ephesians 1:17-23 and Matthew 28: 16-20.
For the reflection, let us focus on the second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.
A Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.
Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of him.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might,
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And he put all things beneath his feet
and gave him as head over all things to the church,
which is his body,
the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.
Transitions are rarely easy. They can evoke a wide range of emotions. Whether it is a break-up, losing a job, moving to a new place or facing the death of a loved one, transitions can cause great fear, anxiety and stress. At times, it can be a source of joy and perhaps peace. Certainly, the class of 2020 have experienced a wide range of emotions with graduation. They are grateful for what they have learned and experienced in their four years. They are grateful for their friendship and also sad that they will not see them on a regular basis. They can text, Facetime and use other ways of communicating, but it’s not the same. Plus, the fact that their commencement was celebrated in ways to ensure social distancing and safety added to sadness and stress at a time that is usually marked with great joy. Transitions are never easy. Today, as the Church celebrates this Feast of the Ascension, we are celebrating a transition. Jesus has completed his mission on earth. The time for Him to return to the Father has arrived. He promises to send the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen them. He returns to the Father and will intercede for us in his glory. He promises to be with us until the end of the age. We often see images of the Jesus in the Ascension with Mary and the disciples looking up in the heavens. Luke reminds us that two angels appeared and told them that Jesus will return once again. We just don’t know when.
This Feast also says much about us and who we are as Church and what we are called to do in the meantime. In Acts, Jesus tells the disciples that will be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Matthew’s Gospel end with the great mandate to go, proclaim the Gospel and to baptize in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Those word in Acts and Matthew’s Gospel are meant for us as well. We are called to be his witnesses. We are called to proclaim the Gospel by our words, by our actions, and by our service. The Mission of Jesus is now the Mission of the Church. The values of Edmund Rice remind us to teach, to heal, to serve and to liberate. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul offers a prayer for them and for us as well that is fitting for today’s feast. Paul prays and hopes that they may be open to the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that they may grow in the knowledge of Christ. He hopes that they may be enlightened to know the glory that is their destiny and the power that is at work within us. Paul prays that the Church of Ephesus, and us as well, may know the fullness of life and peace in Christ. This will help us to continue and fulfill our mission as Body of Christ. As we celebrate this great Feast, let us reflect on Paul’s words and make them our prayer for ourselves, for our family and friend, for Iona and for the Holy Church of God.
We take some time to bring before the Lord our prayers, concerns and needs. We pray for the Church on this feast that it may remain faithful to the mission of Jesus. We remember the class of 2020, those affected by COVID-19, those who are unemployed and all who are struggling at this time. We pray for all those who have died that they may find rest and peace in the fullness of God’s Kingdom. We pray in the words that Jesus taught us. We close with our final prayer:
Let us Pray:
Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head had gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever.