Gospel Reflection May 29 – Sr. Teresa
Sunday, May 29
The Ascension of the Lord
Luke 24: 46-53
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany,
raised his hands, and blessed them.
As he blessed them he parted from them
and was taken up to heaven.
They did him homage
and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
and they were continually in the temple praising God.
The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated today. It has been forty days since we celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Over these weeks we have been hearing of the many appearances that Jesus made to his disciples. Was he trying “to prove” that he had, indeed, risen from the dead? I don’t think so. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus ever try “to prove” himself. Each appearance is a teaching, a reminder, a gift. It is as if Jesus does not want his disciples to have the last memory of his earthly life to be the horrific and inhumane act of the crucifixion or his burial. He wants them to remember his life, his love for them and his teachings. He wants to assure them, and us, that we are ready to carry on his work on earth.
Let’s think back over a few of those appearances: the Resurrection ~Jesus is always rising in us and breaking the chains of anything that keeps us dead inside. He is always rolling away the stone that tries to keep us closed off from life. The appearance to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb ~Jesus is always calling us by name and sending us to take his message forward. On the road to Emmaus ~Jesus will always walk with us in our discouragement and our disillusionment. Doubting Thomas ~Jesus invites us to touch his wounds that we might touch the wounds and sufferings of others. The appearance to Peter where he asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Notice Jesus never asks Peter if he is sorry, he only asks if Peter loves him. Jesus is always ready to forgive us, no matter what, and only wants to know if we love him. Jesus prepared breakfast for his friends after their long night of fishing. Three reminders in this appearance. Jesus is always encouraging us to try a different way, when the usual ways do not work. Jesus is always preparing a meal for us. He is always ready to nourish us with the gift of himself, not because we are worthy but because we are hungry. The final reminder is that Jesus always invites us to bring what we have to offer and when added to what Jesus has it will be more than enough.
Added to all of these reminders, Jesus left other gifts that the disciples (including us) would need. In last week’s gospel we were reminded that Jesus left us the gift of peace.
The time came for Jesus to leave his earthly life and returned to his Father. Jesus ended his earthly life but again left us with a most wondrous and never-ending gift. Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit and his love. He promises that the very same love he shares with his Father will be present among his followers.
Which moves us to ask, (especially in light of the mass shootings in California, Buffalo, New York and in Texas) are the gifts that Jesus left us with — peace, Holy Spirit and love — evident in our actions and words – even towards my enemies? Does my church community, in its worship and works in the world, shine with the light of and power of these gifts? Do I unleash the power of God’s Holy Spirit believing that the work that Jesus did on earth is now entrusted to me?
Yes, there is so much sorrow and injustice in our broken world, it can be overwhelming at times. However, Jesus does not want us to be paralyzed by the enormity of the challenges. He expects and entrusts us with the mission to carry out his works. He does not expect us to hide in fear; or sit and stare; or wring our hands at the injustice; or be blind to the inequity, violence and fear that is eroding the fabric of our lives. He left us three great powers: his peace, his love, and his Spirit to be used in his service.
Jesus has left the earth, but he is not gone. The crucified Lord is no more. There is no crucified or dead Messiah, JESUS IS RISEN and He lives in each of us. We have to do something because doing nothing, or merely offering to pray for peace and justice is not enough to change the deadly trajectory that the world is taking. We have been entrusted with a great responsibility if we dare to call ourselves his disciples. His work on earth is now our work on earth. What will you and I do with the peace, love, and power of the Spirit within us?
-Sister Teresa Tuite, OP