Behold, Christ The Lord Goes Up With Shouts of Joy!
Readings: (1st: Acts 1, 1-11; Ps 46, 2-9; 2nd: Eph 4, 1-13; Gos: Mk 16, 15-20)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this seventh Sunday of Easter we celebrate Christ’s Ascension into heaven. Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive end of his salvific mission as God made man. That is, his humanity. It also marks the climax of his glorification as the Lord of Lords and King of kings. So like every good child or messenger, having fulfilled his mission, He has returned to render full account of his work to his father.
As a church and the body of Christ, we rejoice because today we celebrate the final victory of Jesus over Satan and this world. This is a sign of hope that, as Christ our head defeated Satan and defiled the force of gravity to ascend to the father, we too shall one day overcome all the forces (of sickness, poverty, humiliation, wars, disasters, starvation, hunger, injustice, oppressions etcetera), that try to subdue us in this world. This is certain because the same Holy Spirit that raised and ascended Christ is in us (Rom 8, 11). Thus, Ascension reminds us that we are on a journey and that, rather than this world, heaven is our final destination.
In our first reading, Luke gives us a brief summary of the life of the historical Jesus up to the point of his dramatic ascension into heaven. There are two messages of hope for us here. The first is the promise of the Advocate: “…But you will receive the Holy Spirit…and you shall be my witness…to the ends of the earth.” This means is that Christ is not leaving us as orphans. Instead, he remains with us through the Holy Spirit “till the end of time.” Therefore, the ascension of Christ does not mean his absence from us. Rather it means his continuous presence through the Holy Spirit. The second is the promise of his return (the Parousia). So, today we also celebrate hope because Christ has gone to prepare a place for us in his kingdom. And the hope that one day he shall return to take us in order to be with him.
However, it is important to note that while we wait and prepare for Christ to return, we are not supposed to remain idle or gaze endlessly like the apostles did at the scene of the ascension before they were awaken to consciousness. Instead we are expected to live productive lives. This is the why both our second reading and Gospel reminds us of our missionary vocation. So while we wait for the return of Christ, we have to make effort to fulfill this call and vocation by living appropriately. Paul tells us the best way to do this: “Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness and in patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the spirit by the peace that binds you together.” Brothers, this is what we are supposed to be doing rather than remain idle in the name of waiting for the Lord. He must not find us idle and, we must have enough souls to present to him when he returns.
Brethrens, rather than stand idle and gaze endlessly, we have to strive to carry out this missionary calling given to us by Christ in our gospel: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the good news to all creation…” As Christ evangelized and commissioned us, it is now our duty to evangelize our brethrens. Are we going to fail them and Christ? Surely, we cannot afford to fail them! So let us leave this idle and gazing point and become more active in our ministries. Through our baptism, each one of us belongs to a ministry either as an apostle, a pastor, an evangelist, or a teacher. Finally as we rejoice today that Christ has ascended into heaven and, that one day he will return to take us with him, let us strive to fulfill our missionary calling. This is what will qualify us to be where he is. Finally, together with the psalmist let us acclaim the Lord: “God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.”Alleluia, alleluia!
Peace be with you!!