17 May – Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11
In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’
As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.
Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them: ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.
When the Holy Spirit comes on you
I was deeply touched by a priest’s homily about the encounter between Jesus and the woman who was being stoned for adultery. Most of us would be familiar with the scene where Jesus bends down and writes something in the sand. There are varying interpretations of why Jesus did that action which appears out of context. To this particular priest, He did it so that the attention will be shifted from the woman to himself, so that in that way, He could lift the burden of shame from the woman and put it upon Himself. This widened my perspective of Jesus as miracle worker to one who loves me so much that He will readily take over my worst burdens, even if I feel that I am totally undeserving. How can one not follow Christ after seeing His love in such a manner?
Jesus assures us that He will always be with us, till the end of the age. He ensured that His disciples received the Holy Spirit after He left them and before they went off on their mission to spread His word. To this very day, the Holy Spirit is alive and active in each of us.
My dear readers, are we able to discern the presence of the Spirit in our lives? I know that the Spirit is the only source for my Oxygen reflections lately, as I have been feeling totally bogged down and uninspired, feeling too unmotivated even to think about praying. I can only leave it to the Spirit to do the writing, and interestingly, I am relying on the writing to help me persevere through difficult times. The Spirit is not tangible to our human senses, but His work definitely is, if we open ourselves to Him.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for grace-filled quiet moments where we can contemplate the love of Christ and the work of the Spirit in all things.
Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for loving us beyond human comprehension.