31 May 2019 | Posted by: chadmin
This Sunday we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven. Traditionally, based on the number of days, the Ascension was celebrated on Thursday of the sixth week of Easter, Ascension Thursday. Mostly for convenience sake the vast majority of Dioceses in the United States moved the feast of Ascension to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. In the Resurrection we celebrate that Jesus concurred sin and death, as He invites us all into new life. The Ascension marks Jesus’ return to the Father in glory. This is not Jesus departing from the world and leaving humanity alone, but a completion of His earthly ministry and His post-Resurrection guidance of the apostles. Several passages record Jesus saying that He would remind the apostles, after His Resurrection, of all that He taught them. It is clear in the Resurrection accounts that the apostles were dealing more with the amazement of the Resurrection than they were about writing a Catechism to teach the faith. It is both the post-Resurrection conversations and the promise to send the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, that confirms and establishes the need for a Church.
The Ascension of Jesus allows for the sending of the Holy Spirit. The celebration of the Feast of Pentecost encourages us to reflect on the Church. Often people inside and outside the Church experience the human failures of Church members, but it is the theological guidance we ponder on Pentecost. Jesus needed a voice after His Ascension. Many different Christian churches have started over the years. Essentially each church starts after some disagreement with a previous church. Two thousand years after Jesus, it is logical why Jesus saw it necessary to place His official teaching with someone. Not only did He hand on the Keys to the Kingdom to Peter, He breathed on the apostles giving them the Holy Spirit to act in His name. It is a fair question, if Jesus gave authority to Peter, then where is that authority today? Last week we read about the first Church Council in the Bible, the Council of Jerusalem. The apostles started with a question: Does a person have to become Jewish before professing faith in Jesus? After prayer, the Biblical statement reads, “it is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,” … no … “meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, and from unlawful marriage.” This first decision of the Church establishes both the ability and the need to make decision for church members on behalf of God. The Church exists to get people to heaven, by being a deposit of faith, where truth is held.
These days remind us that we need constant guidance, affirmation, and instruction in the ways of faith. Primarily, our daily prayer and communion with God at Mass, serve as that reminder of the closeness of God. As Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, our daily encounter with the personhood of God challenges us to realize we all have a long way to grow in humility and knowledge of God. The teachings of the Church offer us a path to holiness and an opportunity to learn more: daily reading of the Bible, Sunday Mass attendance, and some ongoing study of theology or catechism. As we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus this Sunday, we thank God for bringing His promises to fulfillment. God always keeps His word. He promises life, forgiveness and truth to us all. With the Ascension of Jesus, we celebrate the completion of His revelation and His return to the right hand of the Father. May our celebration give true thanks and praise to God for the many gifts of faith, life, and love He bestows on us all.