Jun 2 2019 Reflection
Sunday 2 June 2019
First Reading: ACTS 1:1-11
God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
PS 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: EPH 1:17-23
Gospel Reading: LK 24:46-53
Today’s Note: The Ascension of the Lord
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany,
raised his hands, and blessed them.
As he blessed them he parted from them
and was taken up to heaven.
They did him homage
and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
and they were continually in the temple praising God.
They . . . returned to Jerusalem with great joy. (Luke 24:52)
“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” as Juliet said to Romeo. Isn’t this the way many farewells go? Whether you’re sending a child off to make their way in the world or leaving a grandparent after a visit, saying good-bye can be bittersweet. The sweetness lies in your love for them; the bitterness, in leaving them.
Surprisingly, Jesus’ apostles do not weep at his ascension. Quite the opposite, Luke tells us that they returned to Jerusalem—the very place where Jesus was executed—“with great joy” (24:52). Such a display of exuberance can make the apostles appear unrelatable, almost superhuman. What about their deep human connection with Jesus? Didn’t they feel sad that after overcoming death, the greatest separation there is, Jesus decided to leave them anyway?
Of course they were sad. But more than anything else, they were filled with joy. They were confident that they would one day follow where Jesus had gone, and then they would be reunited forever. So their hope of seeing him again made their sorrow sweet.
This is the key to our joy as well. By faith, we know that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us in heaven. But it can still feel as if he has just moved on and left us on our own. One way to counter that sense of aloneness is to imagine Jesus in heaven right now. Think about how he has opened heaven to you, a place you could never reach on your own. Imagine him standing with his Father, your Father. Picture him preparing a place just for you. See the smile on his face as he thinks about opening the doors to your new home and welcoming you in.
Jesus has ascended to heaven and longs for all God’s children to join him. Until then, he never stops interceding for you and pouring out a constant stream of grace. All so that we can one day taste the sweetness of heaven.
“All praise to you, Jesus, for opening heaven for me!”