Home » GOSPEL REFLECTION – Ascension Thursday

GOSPEL REFLECTION – Ascension Thursday

My dear sisters and brothers,

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension, a day which can get overlooked in many ways alongside the greatness of the feasts of Easter and Pentecost.  When we focus in on it though, it highlights many important things about our faith.

When the Church talks about Jesus it talks about his Passion (suffering), Resurrection and Glorification, and today reminds us of that glorification.  The word ‘glory’ infers something tangible, visible, physical that can be touched and seen, and so Jesus is both glorified in returning to heaven to be with the Father, but also is the Father’s glory as he is the visible face of God.

The feast is also about the Holy Spirit.  In ten days time, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit – the Spirit of the Father that had always dwelt within him, and the Spirit that had the power to raise his physical body from the dead – to dwell within his apostles, disciples and all those who became members of the Church down to our own days.  He had told the apostles that he could not send his Spirit until he had returned to the Father; I suppose logically he could not be in one earthly place – Israel – and all over the world at the same time, so he returns to heaven in order not just to walk alongside his disciples physically in the first century AD, but to live within them spiritually, personally, intimately, across all time and space.

The first reading also reminds us of the promise involved, that we, as the body of Christ, will follow where he has led.  As we journey forward in faith we do so in trust that the home and the glory that he has returned to will be ours as well when the end of our earthly life finally comes.  This is a message that is particularly important for us to remember as we live with death far more closely in these days than in the recent past.  The comparison to being Jesus’ body tells us that we are as intimately connected to him as the fingernail is to the finger, as the muscle of the heart is to its valves.  In our oneness with him we will follow where he leads; heaven!!!

And finally – though I’m sure there are many other things we can learn from today’s feast – we must ponder Jesus’ last words before his Ascension, which we heard in today’s Gospel.  “Go”, “make disciples”, “teach”, “baptise” and “know that I am with you…”.  These are all words of action and words of his great commission to the Church which stood before him on that day, the Church whom they represented down through the ages and spread across the world.  This commission tells us that this truth of our hope in Jesus is not to be kept to ourselves, not to be held to just the few who are Christian, but shared with the whole world, that everyone might become part of Jesus’ family, everyone may become part of his body, everyone know that heavenly homeland at the end of their lives.  So, let us hear his words ringing in our ears and echoing down the ages:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations;

baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.

And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”

(Matthew 28: 18 – 20)