Gospel Reflection for the Feast of the Ascension Year C – May 8th 2016
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.
‘And now I am sending down to you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.’ Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.
Imagine Jesus speaking to his Father: ‘I left the crowd behind – to do our work. This was the best I could do! Look at them. Once were twelve, now 11’. All now going behind closed doors in fear. Deniers, runners-away. They would start this new community. And look at us. The successors of this gang.
He saw their hearts, their hopes and willingness to throw in their lives with him, for better and for worse. They were not promising to be perfect.
And look at us. The successors of this gang!
THE BIG HEART
You need a big heart to start something big! You bring what is in your heart! We need to have confidence that we have goodness to bring. That is what changes the world. Not big plans but big hearts; not huge projects, but ordinary goodness.
We are not on our own. God is with us in Christ in a new way. He has no body now but ours.
One snag to this – we may become project people only. The secret of new life in God is in the relationship with Jesus. As he would be with them, he will be with us in love. We are called to be with him first, and then to work with him in the world. He is with the Father now, doing the Father’s work through us. You can only give what you have received.
This is not the feast of departure but of new presence. And a promise of faith so that our parish, neighbourhood and world will always be living his song in word, in music and in action.
Pope Francis encourage us in our new identity: “This is our God: he is a dad to us. The Holy Spirit creates in us this new condition of being children of God and this is the greatest gift we receive from Jesus’ Paschal Mystery. God treats us as children, understands us, forgives us, embraces us, and loves us, even when we make mistakes.” (April 10th 2013).
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger