Read Acts 1:1-11, Ps. 47:2-3,6-9, Ephesians 1:17-23, Matthew 28:16-20
“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; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
Today makes it forty days since the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. In the course of this period, Jesus constantly appeared to the disciples to strengthen their faith, and to assure them of the truth that he is the Messiah. He told them so many things and since there was much more they needed to know; He assured them of the Holy Spirit who would come to teach them everything.
Till this time, the disciples were still expecting that Jesus would take over power from the Roman authorities. They still didn’t understand that Jesus had not come to be a Political Messiah. The disciples asked him: “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
Jesus must have probably laughed at them for not having their priorities right. So, he responded: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons... But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:7-8) In other words, receiving the power of the Holy Spirit and becoming witnesses for Jesus is far more important and far more precious than having to overthrow the Romans or take seats in government.
This is the point St. Paul harps upon in the second reading. He prays that we have the spirit of Wisdom so that our eyes would be open to realizing the great hope we now have the courtesy of Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. By his Ascension, Christ has united our human nature with God thereby making it possible for the human species to be united with God. St. Paul refers to this as a glorious inheritance, immeasurable greatness.
Jesus then lifted up his hands to bless the disciples and as he blessed them, he was carried into heaven before their very eyes. Does it mean that Jesus is no longer with us? Of course, no. By going up to heaven, Jesus did not create a distance between himself and humanity, rather his Ascension confirms the truth that we all have a final destination that is not here on earth. Jesus is still with us. Jesus is always with us.
In fact, we must never forget Jesus’ last words in today’s Gospel passage: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Today should be a day of joy for us, a day to celebrate the final victory of life over death, a day to celebrate our firm assurance that heaven exists, that just as Christ ascended to heaven, we too shall one day depart this earth and be united with God in heaven. Immediately after the ascension, the disciples entered a mood of prayer in preparation for the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what we must do now.
Let us pray: Come O Holy Spirit fill our hearts, and enkindle in us your Sacred Fire. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (The Ascension of the Lord, Bible Study: Acts 1:1-11, Ps. 47:2-3,6-9, Ephesians 1:17-23, Matthew 28:16-20).
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu