Scripture: “Why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” Alleluia! Alleluia!
The gospel account of the Lord’s Ascension recounts the climactic moment when Jesus will no longer be visible to the eyes of His disciples. It lacks the drama and power of a Hollywood production with a cast of thousands standing on the hillside, all of their eyes drawn heavenward. It is told simply, no frills. There must have been some temptation to dress it up, “improve the occasion,” as the saying goes. But now the supremely important task of living the Gospel and bringing it to others takes precedence.
The point is that although they no longer behold the living presence of their teacher and friend as in the days of His flesh, nonetheless He is closer to them now than ever before. When they walked the roads of Galilee with Him, His physical being, like theirs, was limited by time and space. Now Jesus transcends those boundaries and is with them wherever they find themselves. Dispersed to the four corners of the earth with the Good News they are sent to announce, the Eleven will be sustained and nurtured by the assurance that He is with each one of them.
But first, they must remain in Jerusalem, waiting in anticipation for the strength promised them for their task. Like the Eleven, we may have moments of regret that we cannot see the risen and ascended Lord with the eyes of our flesh. Let the Good News that now he is closer to us than we are to ourselves sustain and nurture us in the pilgrimage of our own lives, even as it did for those whose faith in the same Risen Lord is what brings us together in prayer to celebrate this feast.
Prayer for Ascension Thursday
Lord Jesus, make us worthy and effective witnesses of the Gospel you have entrusted to us. Illuminate our works of compassion and ministries of care with the light of Easter hope. May your grace enable us to trust that you have chosen us, weak and frail disciples, to reveal your constant love in the midst of our families and communities. Amen!