Scripture: 1st Reading: Acts1,1-11; Resp. Psalm: Ps47,2-3,6-9; 2nd Reading: Eph1,17-23; Gosp. Accl.: Mt28,19-20; Gospel: Mt28,16-20
The Father willed and desired to save humanity after the disastrous consequences of the disobedience in the Garden of Eden. The Father entrusted that mission to His beloved Son. The Son broke into our cosmic time and space at His Incarnation to fulfill the will and desire of His Father. The Son of God diligently carried out this mission through his preaching, healings, miracles, but more especially through His life. At the end, He gave His life as a ransom for the same humanity that did not know Him or accept Him.
But death was not His end. He rose at the third day from the dead. He brought death to its knees and gave life to all who believe in Him. For forty days He was seen by all who had been with Him at the time of His earthly mission till the day of His gruesome murder. They saw Him; He ate with them; He continued to instruct them; He led them to a deeper understanding of the mystery of His person.
All this notwithstanding, we know however, that whatever has a beginning in time must have an end in time. Forty days after He rose from the dead, the Lord Jesus ascended triumphantly into heaven. Before He ascended, He charged them to wait for the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father. He also commanded them not to bother about the time the kingdom would be restored.
Our Lord, at His ascension, clearly told them that what was paramount was for them to be His witnesses, to go out and testify to all that they had seen and experienced. He told the eleven disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him. He charged them to go and make disciples of all nations, "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all That I have commanded you."
Our Lord did not just give them the charge to collaborate with Him in the work for the salvation of mankind. He knew they could never do it alone. He knew the work was not theirs but His. As a consequence, He promised them His abiding presence with them: "behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
The Apostles were still looking on, gazing into heaven, having a sense of deep loss, not wanting those moments with their Master to finish, when two men in white robes, appeared to them and jolted them out of their reverie and sense of loss. They told them that Jesus who was taken away from them would come back in the same way they saw Him go.
There was a beginning in time to the mission the Son came to accomplish here on earth. Today marked the end of the physical presence of the Son to personally direct that mission. From the time of His Ascension, He would continue to direct the mission in a spiritual way through His Apostles and disciples. He entrusted so much to them. They were His worthy ambassadors. They did not fail Him.
We rejoice at the Ascension of our Lord. He had promised His disciples that there are many mansions in His Father's house. He promised to go and prepare a place for us so that where He is, we could be too. His Ascension shows us clearly that this earth is not our end. It shows us that we are here for a purpose. It shows us that when we have finished our race here on earth, there is a place to go to. Let us use our time here on earth to prepare for that encounter. Let us use our fleeting time to prepare for our eternity.
Unlike the Apostles who were gazing into the skies, the Lord challenges us today to plant our feet down and start working for our salvation with fear and trembling. It is useless to look up and be lost in a sense of defeat and dejection when He has commanded us to continue His mission for Him. Let us roll up our sleeves and be at it right away. He will never abandon us. Let us hold on to that.
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 has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope." Amen
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.