“But You Will Receive Power When The Holy Spirit Comes Upon You.”

05-12-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is the commemoration of the day when Jesus ascended into Heaven forty days after the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Some of the Gospels describe Jesus blessing His Disciples, separating from them and being carried up into Heaven where He is seated at the right hand of The Father. Acts of the Apostles 1:6-11 explains the importance of the Ascension, as it marks the departure of Jesus from interaction with His Disciples in this world and His entrance into the Realm of God. The Ascension of the Lord is considered the climax of the redemption story, and the gateway to Jesus’ priestly work of intercession. It also shows that Jesus has overcome death and is alive with the Father in Heaven.

The Ascension is usually celebrated on Thursday, forty days after Easter, as reported in the Gospels and in Acts of the Apostles. However, in most Dioceses in the United States, the day for the celebration of the Solemnity has been moved to the seventh Sunday of Easter, which is often referred to as “Ascension Sunday.”

St. Mark’s Gospel provides for us a concise account of the Ascension of the Lord and the Disciples’ response to the event. Prior to His Ascension, Jesus had mandated His followers to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” He also listed the signs that would accompany those who believe. But it is in Acts of the Apostles that we are presented with a comparatively elaborate account of the events on Ascension Thursday. St. Luke reports that after Jesus had presented Himself many times to the Disciples, shown many proofs of His Resurrection from the dead and spoken to them about the kingdom of God, He was taken up into the clouds to Heaven while the Disciples watched. As part of His final speech to them, Jesus had instructed them not to depart Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father about which they heard Him speak. Jesus promised that while John baptized with water, His Disciples would soon be empowered to baptize with the Holy Spirit.

We can actually deduce two promises from the Ascension of our Lord. The first is the promise of the Holy Spirit who would empower the Apostles to go into the world, confront the structures of evil, preach the Gospel and witness to it with their lives thereby making Disciples of all nations. Second, is the promise of the return of Christ in glory to bring the reward of eternal friendship with God to those who believe and faithfully witness to the Gospel, and to serve judgment and condemnation to those who choose not to sustain righteous relationships with God and neighbor. The desire of every Christian should be to experience the revival, the renewal that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit affords us, so that having witnessed to the Gospel faithfully, we may be ready for the second coming of Christ in Glory.

May this be our ardent desire and may God hear and answer us as we prepare for the birthday of the Church at Pentecost.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh