Acts 1: 1-11
Ephesians 1: 17-23
Mark 16: 15–20
While today is the Seventh Sunday of Easter, in many dioceses in the United States, the feast of the Ascension has been transferred from last Thursday to today. Such is the case here in Chicago so my reflection today is based on the readings for the Feast of the Ascension.
This feast in a way summarizes all that Jesus, living as a human person in our midst, has accomplished and transitions the disciples of Jesus into their new role as living witnesses to the new life Christ has given us.
In two of our readings today, the first reading from Acts and the Gospel from Mark, we hear accounts of the Ascension event. In both accounts Jesus appears to his disciples and reminds them of his teachings, his passion and death, and of his resurrection. He then mandates them to be his witnesses to the world, to tell the world what they have heard and seen. In the account in Acts, Jesus also tells his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes upon them. "Then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took his seat at God’s right hand."
In the second reading for today, from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul blesses his community by asking God to "enlighten (their) innermost vision that (they) may know the great hope to which he has called (them), the wealth of his glorious heritage to be distributed among the members of the church, and the immeasurable scope of his power in us who believe."
The early disciples of Jesus welcomed their apostolic task of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. After the Holy Spirit came to them at Pentecost, they were unstoppable. It was their heroic fidelity to Christ that transformed the world and began a community of faith that continues to live in us today.
The blessing St. Paul bestowed on the Ephesian faith community is a blessing for us as well. May God enlighten "our innermost vision that we may know the great hope to which he has called us, the wealth of his glorious heritage to be distributed among the members of the church, and the immeasurable scope of his power in us who believe." The world today needs our witness, may we, too, be faithful to our call.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director the Development Office for Holy Cross Province and is stationed at Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago.