21st MAY 2023

Feast of the Ascension



Acts 1: 1-11; Ps 47;               Eph 1: 17-23;                         Mt 28: 16-20




Luke begins the Acts of the Apostles, by reminding us of his Gospel, and the situation he described at the end of the book. Jesus suffered and died, and was raised from the dead. He appeared to his disciples and gave them a new understanding of the Scriptures and spoke to them about the kingdom of God. Jesus ordered the disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, and that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit would come upon them. Although Jesus had taught them about God’s kingdom, their final question to Jesus was about the kingdom from their Jewish perspective, leaving the Gentiles totally out of the picture. The disciples’ choice of words indicates that they had forgotten about preaching forgiveness to all nations. Instead, they wanted Jesus to bring glory and power to the Jewish people living in the land of Israel. This had been the Jewish hope for centuries.

A national kingdom was not the kind of kingdom that Jesus wanted his disciples to preach about. From the passage, it is well seen that Jesus did not answer their question. Instead, He reminded them of the promise and the prophesy. Jesus’ message is clear: The power from God is the Holy Spirit, that His disciples, who were witnesses of Jesus’ ministry, were to preach throughout the world. Jesus had given them a mission: they were to be witnesses for Jesus – to preach about Him, His resurrection and that repentance and forgiveness can be obtained through Him, who took upon himself our suffering and burdened himself with our sorrows.

Jesus wanted to enable his disciples to be teachers, to delegate the ultimate responsibility of being His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The role of the Holy Spirit who was to come and to make Jesus’ prophesy come true. The word ‘power’ is used to enlighten the eyes of our mind to see how infinitely great the gift of the Holy Spirit will be to the disciples.

Thereafter to the astonishment of the disciples, Jesus ascended into heaven. Two angels appeared and informed the disciples that Jesus would return. The angels did not say when He would return. The disciples were simply left with the command to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls us to focus our thoughts and actions on others. The disciples’ question and Jesus’ answer continue to be relevant even today. Instead of focusing on the physical blessings we want, we should focus on the spiritual blessings we have received and make efforts to share them with others. To share the good news of salvation – that people of all nations can become a part of God’s family. And we wait with joyful hope for the coming of Jesus as we go about daily, accomplishing the mission we are entrusted with.

Luke addresses his account to Theophilus. Some commentators suggest that “Theophilus “which means “Friend of God” or “Loved of God”, is a symbolic name, meant to represent the Church perhaps. More likely, however, Theophilus was a real person, with a name that others also had in those times. Just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, we too need to pray for ourselves and for each other, so that we can know who God truly is, the hope to which he has called us, His glorious inheritance in His saints, the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us, and His great might through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Psalm today leads us to turn our attention to mountains, which are symbols of aboveness and offer us a lovely metaphor for raising our gaze to higher things. On this Feast of the Ascension, we are invited to make the shift from seeing Jesus as Man to seeing Jesus as Lord – to move from Jesus to Christ. Christ is the Lord of all creation, present since the foundation of the world. Only Christ can use superlatives as in the Gospel today: all authority, go to all the nations; all the commands; I am with you always.

Response: God goes up with shouts of joy. The Lord goes up with trumpet blast.

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