Many people are living with loss at the moment: the death of loved-ones, whether through Covid 19 or some other reason; the loss of physical contact with family and friends; the loss of our freedom to come and go as we choose…..all of which make Ascension Day, which falls on Thursday, particularly relevant for us this year.
The disciples had to adjust to loss twice-over. The pain of the loss of Jesus on the cross led to the joy of the resurrection appearances; only to be followed now by seemingly losing him again. But, in fact, Jesus’ Ascension is the culmination of his redemptive work on earth and the means by which we can know he is with us still even, and maybe particularly, in these currently very challenging times.
Normally, Ascension Day is a day of great celebration in the Church but, sadly, we can’t go to mass this year. Instead, I urge you to spend some time reading the scripture passages set for the mass of the day and to ponder the relevance of the Ascension for your life. (Acts 1: 1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mt28:19,20)
We know that, following the crucifixion, when the world couldn’t get any darker, Jesus rose from the dead. For the next 40 days Jesus appeared to many witnesses, and continued to teach and prepare the apostles for their ministry.
The doubt, pain and confusion of the disciples gave way to hope and joy….and then Jesus told them he must now return to Heaven. He would not be with them in the same way he’d been previously….but he also told them he would not abandon them.
I am grateful to Fr Gregory for providing our reflection on this Sunday’s Gospel reading, which is about Jesus preparing his disciples for the fact that he would be going away again; but also telling them that they won’t be left on their own, because the Spirit of truth would come to help steer them through what lay ahead for them.
Although the Ascension marks Jesus’ return to heaven, we can take comfort from the fact that through Christ we have become God’s children. We can therefore have confidence in him as our strength and our consoler, knowing that he is always within our hearing, as we call on him to intercede for us this during these difficult days; and that he will also strengthen us to live out our own discipleship, according to our gifts and circumstances.
With my love and prayers,
The image is “Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles” by Duccio di Buoninsegna – From the Museo dell’Opera metropolitana del Duomo collection painted between 1308 and 1311, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_Apostles.jpg