Monday, April 28, 2008

Ascension Reflection

Easter is not Just a day in our life together in he Church; Easter is a season. This season is a block of time that begins with resurrection day but it continues until Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. But, we don’t get the Spirit until Jesus makes his final exit in the ascension.

You see, from the resurrection through the ascension Jesus continued to appear to his disciples. Jesus appears first to the women at the tomb, then on the road to Emmaus, then in the locked room, and along the shore at the sea of Galilee. In these appearances Jesus shows them that the promise of resurrection is true. He renews the sacred meal with the disciples. He continues to offer them instruction and, in the case of Peter, he reverses denial in favor of affirmation.

Then, perhaps in the climactic scene in the entire New Testament, Jesus departs. Rather than stay forever, Jesus leaves. Jesus gives the final instruction to take the message to all nations, blesses the disciples, the first time in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus blesses them, and ascends out of their sight. Their response is somewhat unexpected. They are filled with joy and offer praise and worship. This is the first time in Luke’s Gospel they offer Jesus worship. They then head back to the Temple.

The firsts of blessing and worship are punctuation. All Has been fulfilled. All has come full circle. This Gospel that begins in the Temple ends there. This Gospel that begins with God becoming flesh, ends with flesh returning to God. The entire action is complete.

Humanity has been restored to a state of grace. God has made the restoration known in the acceptance of flesh. The distance that once separated God and humans has been bridged. It is only now left to humans make use of the bridge.

Think about the language of the Eucharistic Prayer from Rite One. We invoke not only Christ’s death and resurrection, but his ascension as well. They are all part of the same action of salvation. Together, they bring us to the new place of celebration, for the end is the starting point.

The end of Jesus’ ministry is the beginning of ours. The Christ accomplished in death, resurrection and ascension, what we could not, and now we are empowered to accomplish the mission that is uniquely ours.

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