10 May – Solemnity of The Ascension of The Lord
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.
With the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what the hope to which he has called you is.
I have an active mind. I try to plan ahead and have a Plan B, C, in case Plan A fails me. It must be a job hazard. Sometimes, I work myself into a frenzy thinking about what could go wrong. This may be a good thing on the work front. The secular world can be so unforgiving if things don’t ‘work to plan’. However, in spite of our most careful planning, the Road of Life is unpredictable. Our best-laid plans in life can be upended by unexpected changes. These could be either disappointing or exhilarating. Personal or other setbacks, the loss of loved ones, illnesses or accidents, broken hearts or betrayals, are not uncommon occurrences in our lives. On the other hand, fate can provide unanticipated good fortune or heartening experiences.
In our Christian faith, we are asked to surrender it all to God. I find that so hard to do with my overactive, rational mind. Recently, I experienced a period of desolation. I was overcome by darkness so overwhelming that it choked me. Everything seemed so bleak and stifling. I wished I could somehow find an avenue to let go of all that was welling up inside me. If I could cry or scream or hit something – but no. Years of conditioning myself to put forth a hard exterior, burying pain and disappointments was now working against me. I have a prayer list so long it is so onerous. ‘Why why? How and when?’ were questions I asked God. I tried all ways to restructure my prayers but still nothing. Zilch. God just wasn’t speaking to me. Just like the disciples in today’s first reading, I wanted God’s answers to my life issues right there and then.
I shared yesterday that I went on my much-needed retreat, to seek peace and yes – answers! Like the disciples in today’s first reading, I did not see the need to wait. They ask if “now” is the time to restore the kingdom to Israel. But for such things, we must wait and trust in God’s promise. God works to his own timing and also for our own good. “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
We try to avoid emotional or physical pain which distresses and saddens us; we bury them and hope to move on. For me, the message was loud and clear. The Lord needed me to first acknowledge what’s going on in my life. In the season of change, I needed to just acknowledge that certain events and people attached to them had to die. It’s in the dying that new shoots of change can spring forth and grow. With this enlightenment, I found the permission to grieve, to hurt, to feel sadness and anger. And with openness to what God is doing in my life, pruning and shaping, a new spring will come into my life. Today, as we celebrate the solemnity of The Ascension of the Lord, let us experience the joy and love that no one can take away from us!
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: For the times when we closed our ears to the Holy Spirit, for the times we demanded immediate answers, forgive us. Come Lord and take away everything that is not of you; the need to control our lives without You. Give us patience and the knowing that You, in your time will reveal all the glory that’s in store for us.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for the hope you promise us.