WITH ST. MARY'S
THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD
Be ready for the Holy Spirit to guide you.
The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is always celebrated 40 days after the Resurrection on Ascension Thursday. However, the Church also permits this feast to be observed on the seventh Sunday of Easter. On this Sunday, we reflect on the final act of Christ on Earth: the True Blessing he gave to his Apostles. The most important lesson we should take from Christ’s Ascension into Heaven is that the Final Blessing was not the end of the disciple’s journey in preparing for their lives in evangelization. In reality, the True Blessing they received as Christ ascended into Heaven was the last thing that he, as a human being, would give to them before they were ready to go out on mission.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
At Christ’s Ascension, there was literally nothing more that the Apostles could have learned or experienced directly from Christ. With a final blessing, Christ goes off to his place in Heaven and instructs his Apostles to preach in his name to all nations…but not yet. This is a bit confusing: if Jesus has completed his instruction, fulfilled his promise, resurrected from the dead, and strengthened his followers to carry on his message, what more could they possibly need? It simply wasn’t enough to know Christ and to know his message. It was absolutely crucial for the Apostles to receive the Holy Spirit before beginning their own public ministries. Not enough emphasis seems to be placed on this detail. As we end the Easter season this week, we should focus on what comes next. It’s a wonderful thing to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, but the feast of the Ascension is a reminder that we are soon called to embark on our own missions to be evangelists for Christ to the world. This week, between celebrating Christ’s glorious ascension into Heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, we should model ourselves after the words of Christ in today’s Gospel: Stay put until we are clothed with power from on high. Don’t go out into the world preaching what Christ preached before you are ready. The Spirit must be our guide and the author of any and all works of ours that glorify God. The Ascension is a feast that is celebrated throughout all of Christendom; we share this holy day with even non-Catholics who have faith in Christ. We should remind each other as fellow Christians of the lesson of the Ascension. Just because we think we know Christ and we’ve listened to his words does not mean that we are ready to go out into the world to profess our faith just yet. We need the Holy Spirit. The problem with all of us when we begin to disagree and give in to the in-fighting that seems all too common is that we are trying to share the message of Christ on our own. Under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is no room for schism, dissent, or personal desire. The Holy Spirit guides every single one of us in exactly what we should be doing to grow Christ’s kingdom on earth, but only if we are genuinely open to the Spirit. Pray fervently for the coming of the Spirit upon your actions so that you can obey Christ’s final message on earth as best you can.
Family activity to do at home: Scripture is the method by which God communicates to us as we want Him to: through words. Christ taught his followers while he was on earth, and for many, his teachings are enough to satisfy them in their mission to be his disciples. Christ's last instruction was shared when he ascended into Heaven, but anyone who reads the Bible knows that new instructions are revealed within the heart of the reader every time they open up Scripture. The activity below walks through some traditional customs for the feast of the Ascension that you can do with your family, but one particularly interesting, simple, and edifying practice is to open up the New Testament randomly to receive your "final instruction" from Christ today. Learn more below.