For Sunday, May 8, 2016, Ascension of the Lord
It happens to all of us now and again. We know what is coming, and yet we do not fully understand it: the anticipation of a wedding, or the birth of a first child, a graduation and the new life that commences, or the beginning of a new job. In each situation, we know what is going to happen on a certain date or in a period of time, and yet we do not—nothing can prepare us for the experience that we have been waiting for.
This must be something of what the disciples felt after Jesus’ ascension before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They knew something was to come. Jesus had told them to remain together in Jerusalem, to wait for “the promise of the Father” about which he had spoken to them. Yet, even after the times they encountered the risen Christ, with the reassurance of his promise that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they did not know what to expect.
Throughout the liturgical year, we hear the story of the disciples as they come to belief in Jesus. We hear the accounts of people being healed, mercy and forgiveness given, and encounters with Christ as he taught, shared meals, and showed the love of God through his actions. We know what is to come and yet we are called to hear the stories anew. In hearing the Gospel narratives again, we are invited to take salvation to heart and to pattern our lives accordingly.
Like the disciples who waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit, we know what life in Christ is to be: there are sure to be challenges if we truly embrace life as a disciple; there will be moments of disappointment, grief, and fear as there are for all of humanity; we acknowledge, look for, and celebrate the Resurrection and the hope of new life. Yet, we do not know exactly what this means for us until it happens, in the real moments and circumstances of our lives. We understand that the Resurrection means that Christ is victorious over death in all of its forms (physical death of a loved one, diagnosis of a serious illness, the death of a relationship, and so on), yet it is often not until we face death that we really grasp the implications of faith and hope in the Resurrection. We know in our minds and hearts the importance of faith, yet still grasp the Resurrection in deeper and more powerful ways in the aftermath of crisis, such as outreach following the recent earthquake in Ecuador, flooding in the Southern US, and the loving actions of the people around us in our own personal trials and crises. We may say we are followers of Jesus Christ, but do not fully grapple with the call of discipleship until we encounter a homeless person on the street or feel the tug in our heart to respond to the needs of the sick, imprisoned, or lonely through personal action. It is only in such real moments that faith comes to life.
As we near the celebration of Pentecost, let us take time to allow this in-between time to sink in. We are still in the Easter season. Like the disciples who witnessed Christ’s ascension and waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit, it would be good for us to reflect on the meaning of the Resurrection and the true and lasting impact of our relationship with Christ in our lives. How are we experiencing resurrection in this Easter season? How will we share the power of the Resurrection with those who need to know God’s love?
V: God ascends amid shouts of joy, Alleluia.
R: The Lord, amid trumpet blasts, Alleluia.
V: Let us pray. O King of glory, Lord of hosts, this day You ascended triumphantly above all heavens. Leave us not orphans, but send upon us the Promise of the Father, the Spirit of Truth.
V: Only-begotten Son of God, having conquered death, Thou didst pass from earth to heaven! As Son of Man seated in great glory on Thy throne and praised by the whole angelic host, grant that we who in the jubilant devotion of our faith, celebrate Thine Ascension to the Father, may not be fettered by the chains of sin to earthly loves. And may the aim of our unceasing prayer be directed toward the heavens whither, after Thy Passion, Thou didst ascend in glory.
—McLoughlin, Helen. Family Customs: Easter to Pentecost. Liturgical Press: Collegeville, MN, 1956.
ICSC CONFERENCE EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION
The International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC) is hosting its annual conference in New Orleans from October 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Discounted Early Bird registration is available until July 31. For more information on the conference and to register, visit http://catholicstewardship.com/programs-a-events/annual-conference/2016-annual-conference-information.
CATHOLIC COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN, May 8
The annual Catholic Communication Campaign Collection will be taken up in many dioceses on the weekend of May 8. Collection resources are available from the USCCB website at: http://usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/catholic-communication-campaign/collection/. This national collection supports the dissemination of great Catholic content in a variety of media formats.
POPE’S MESSAGE FOR WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY, May 8
Pope Francis’ message for the 50th World Day of Communications—“Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter”—was released on January 24, the memorial of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of communicators. The full text of the message can be viewed at: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/communications/documents/papa-francesco_20160124_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali.html.