May 13 – The Ascension of the Lord
The Ascension of Jesus is Christian teaching that Christ physically departed from Earth by rising into Heaven, in the presence of eleven of his apostles. According to the New Testament narrative, the Ascension occurred forty days after the resurrection. In the Christian tradition, reflected in the major Christian creeds and confessional statements, God exalted Jesus after his death, raising him from the dead and taking him to Heaven, where Jesus took his seat at the right hand of God.
“It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided...”
As I read today’s first reading, I find myself wondering who Theophilus is? The one Luke addresses here. So here’s what I found out. Theophilus means ‘Lover of God’, he could have been a Roman official, a lost man. When Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles, he must have been journeying with Theophilus, with the objective of leading the lost man to Jesus. With this new knowledge, I read the passage again and the words came alive for me.
I had been extremely busy in April, with assignments and classes. April was a ‘hellish’ month for me. May isn’t going to get better as I prepare for exams. I recently told a friend that I find myself becoming more secular. My weekday mass is now virtually zero as I rush though readings and assignments, my prayer time is almost non-existent unless Jesus nudges me. Yes, I have become Theophilus. Caught up in the world. I am temporarily lost. So today’s reading is what I needed to hear. It was as if Luke was speaking to me, encouraging me and cheering me on in my journey with Christ. This could be for you too, my brothers and sisters, any lover of God.
Luke telling Theophilus about Jesus is like him reminding me that Jesus is with us and He never breaks His promises. Luke recounts his time with Jesus, what He did and taught, His instructions to the chosen Apostles, how He continued to encourage them after his Passion. For 40 days he appeared, telling them about God’s kingdom. This is Jesus — encouraging us, cheering us, telling us not to lose sight of the ultimate prize — that He will be back to lead us to His Father’s kingdom. In the meantime, we have to do our part — be His witnesses; with the way we live out our Christian faith and how we conduct ourselves as Christians. It takes a whole lot of surrendering and also some effort on our part. This is our preparation time.
The number 40 in the bible has much significance — the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. It rained 40 days and nights on Noah’s ark. Jesus fasted for 40 days to prepare for Satan’s temptations. So I look at this time as my ‘40 days’; my season of preparation for God’s plans for me. How I am going to use this time is really up to me. Do I just let life happen, taking me on a whirlwind ride of busyness? Or do I remain rooted — steadfast, strong and resolute! I know that everything that has happened in my life so far is my journey and preparation in living out God’s purpose for me. I probably will not know what the end purpose is until I come face to face with God, but I have to trust the process. At each junction of that process, is a purpose. It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided. I used to beat myself up wondering about self-actualization. But today, I surrender it to Jesus and just ask Him to lead me hour by hour, day by day.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. You and I have the Holy Spirit in us. God gave this precious gift to us at our baptism, it’s up to us to co-operate with the Holy Spirit.
May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you.
So my dear friends. Today as we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, let’s not gaze up in the sky. Heed the voice of the two angels, ‘He will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, enlighten the eyes of our minds, open up our hearts to see the hope You hold for us. May we never be afraid to proclaim the Good News and may our lives be witnesses of our faith in you, Jesus.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for being ever present in our journeys. Thank you for walking with us, and showing your presence in our ‘40 days’. Thank you for the hope you promised us.