Hope that we may one day follow

By | June 1, 2011

In celebrating the Ascension of our Lord, let us look at the essence of this feast as described in the two prefaces of today’s Mass: Today the Lord Jesus, the king of glory, the conqueror of sin and death, ascended to heaven while the angels sang his praises. Christ, the mediator between God and man, judge of the world and Lord of all, has passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us but to be our hope. Christ is the beginning, the head of the church; where he has gone, we hope to follow (Preface of the Ascension 1).

A central theme for this feast is hope. We are all well aware that our life here on earth is relatively short, even though we might live into ours 80s or 90s. Life comes to an end and the question that has to be answered is what lies beyond time and space, beyond this earthly existence? The Christian claim is that if we live in Christ, appropriating his values and attitudes and actions, if we minister and suffer and die with Christ, we shall one day be reunited with him and the believing community. Our hope is that God does await us.

Until the end time comes, our mission is to make disciples through the work of evangelization. The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of this ministry, but we must cooperate with the graces given. We make God’s love and mercy known both in word and in deed. Relying on the promised presence of our loving God, we will endure until the end.

In the second preface for the Ascension we read: In his risen body he plainly showed himself to his disciples and was taken up to heaven in their sight to claim for us a share in his divine life.

All during this Easter season we have been hearing about the Lord’s appearances to the disciples. Whether it be on the seashore or the road to Emmaus, the upper room or in the garden, the risen Lord keeps breaking into their lives and communicating to them the good news of salvation. Though plagued with much fear and many doubts, the disciples were graced to venture out and do the mission entrusted to them. Now with Jesus’ Ascension, they would have an abiding source of intercession in that Jesus continually prays for them (and for us).

St. Paul, in writing to the Ephesians articulates a holy desire that  “… the eyes of your hearts be enlightened that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his [Jesus’] call.” The feast of the Ascension is about hope, that where Jesus has gone, we may one day follow and enjoy the glory of God.

Questions for reflection

1. What does the feast of the Ascension say to your daily life?

2. In what sense is the feast of the Ascension all about hope?

3. How do you live out the call to evangelize?

Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.


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