for Sunday, May 28, 2017
"I am with you always, until the end of the age." Jesus is always with us. The Holy Spirit is always with us. The Father is always with us. This is why we also celebrate a Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. Today the focus is on Jesus leaving us in order to be with us in a different way. We humans often do not like changes. We don't like people leaving us. We don't like people dying on us. We like things to go on as they are - at least as long as things are relatively comfortable.
Jesus ascends and leaves His followers uncomfortable! Something new is happening. We can remember the dismay when Jesus was crucified - and hardly anyone believed in Him at all. Then came Resurrection - and even that was difficult to believe. We are all a bit like the Apostle Thomas. We want things to behave in a normal way! If things change, we want to prove them ourselves and not just trust others.
The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles and gives an account of the ascension. It tells us that Jesus had to "prove" Himself to His followers and that He finally convinced them that He was truly alive and with them. They still don't understand but are waiting for Him to establish a Kingdom on this earth. Jesus is clear now: the Kingdom is within you. With your faith, go and preach to others the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will help you.
Then Jesus goes up and disappears from their sight. There are two men dressed in white present, reminding the followers that Jesus will come back in the same way that He leaves.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Ephesians. This letter tells us that God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavens. It is important for us to recognize that now Jesus is with the Father and has sent to us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the new way of knowing the presence of Christ in our midst.
This brings us back to the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus sends His followers to baptize and to draw all peoples to Him.
These three readings all agree in the Ascension and in the understanding that Jesus must leave us in one way in order to be present to us in another way. The challenge for us is to come to know the Lord in this new way. It might have been easier in many ways to have known Jesus in the flesh - but there were many who knew Him and rejected Him as the Son of God. We do not know Jesus in the flesh and yet we are invited to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus died for us, that Jesus was raised for us and that Jesus has given us His Holy Spirit.
May our Father in Heaven show us how to believe and help us understand these great mysteries of our faith.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Acts 1.1-11
Second Reading: Ephesians 1.17-23
Gospel: Matthew 28.16-20
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: