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ASCENSION: THE MORE ABIDING PRESENCE. A reflection for the solemnity of Ascension, Year C, 2019.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sat, 01 Jun 2019

Readings: (Acts 1:1- 11; Eph 1:17-23; Lk 24:46-53)

Ascension refers to the physical absence of Jesus from our world of flesh and blood as we know it. Yet the Ascension inaugurates the abiding spiritual presence of Jesus as risen Lord among us. We celebrate in this feast, the realms of Jesus’ eternal presence with God the Father, within and beyond time and space.

Rather than an absence, the Ascension remains for believers, a new and exulted presence of the glorified Lord. Now, the Church lives what it is called to proclaim: the abiding presence of Jesus in the world. Now, the Church as the people of God ‘see’ Christ with the eyes of faith; and point Jesus out to the world in the works of grace and mercy inaugurated by Jesus.

Much like our forebears in today’s first reading whose entire lives were touched, turned around and changed by Jesus, we too, could keep ‘gazing’ into the sky. We may feel that the Ascension is about departure and abandonment. But this needs not be the case.  We have been graced with the full impulse of the resurrection. We have been inspired by the Ascension faith, which is a living faith and a deeper faith pointing us to new modes of Jesus’ presence among us. In our time we are privileged to know that our uncertain world demands a certain faith; and one which does not shiver or cringe before countless uncertainties of today’s modern life.

Seeing Christ in the new faith of the resurrection and living the Christian message with the fresh light of the Ascension, demands openness of mind from us. This openness of faith ‘sees Christ’ in his solemn word as proclaimed and his Sacraments celebrated when two or three gathers in his name. In the Eucharist and our exercise of genuine charity to the brethren in need, we receive and encounter Jesus. All of these summon us to take notice – even at the face of our technocracies, that there are still mysteries in our world today which only the authority of God does fully reveals and totally explains. As a people and a nation founded on Christian civilisation, we are also reminded to rely on “what the Father has promised (Lk 24:49)” us in Jesus.

That, which God, the Father promises and constantly gives to us his Children is the gift of faith. The Christian faith as re-enforced by the Ascension today, engrains us with the fruits of the Holy Spirit for stability and balance. The ‘balance’ of faith helps us in the often very shallow attitude of thinking that we must ‘figure it all out’ here and now. The stability that comes with a sincere faith in God reminds us that it could get better and clearer tomorrow!

It is for this reason, that the prayer of St Paul echoes afresh to us today. Praying for God’s grace and for the openness of mind and heart is still as needed in our time today as it was centuries ago. Thus, the presence and power of the Spirit: The Spirit of wisdom towards the perception of what is revealed; and the opening of the eyes of our minds (Eph 1:17); we long to be touched and filled by God in this way.

And here, the power of the resurrection is joined to the promise of the Ascension to re-assure that no person who came to Christ in baptism or remained with him through life’s pilgrim journey will be annihilated by death and confined eternally to the grave. Bodily death will be only the beginning of a process. The merits of resurrection and ascension of Jesus will open the way to Pentecost. The work of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of the new life brings back to Christ, all that the Father gave to him. And Christ will raise us up on the last day as he has promised (Jn 6:39).

Today, we too should be filled with joy as the apostles were filled with joy and praising God while returning to Jerusalem. Their hopes did not fail them, and our hopes will never deceive us. Taking up this Christian hope afresh and living it anew in the real world of today’s hardships, is our call.

May God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, continue to give us a spirit of true perception of what is revealed and the great hopes his call holds for us. Happy Ascension Day celebration!



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