May 8, Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
1) Acts 1:1-11
Psalm 47:2-3, 6-9
2) Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23
Gospel: Luke 24:46-53
This week’s Gospel shows the impressive patience and trust of Jesus’ disciples as they watch their beloved master depart from them, ascending into heaven.
From the time they first became his disciples, he had been preparing them to go forth and spread his message to the whole world. In his final words, he again declares this to be their mission. However, in the next breath he tells them not to go yet.
Nevertheless, their excitement and joy are undeterred by the command to wait. While confident in his promise that they will carry out his mission, they respect the fact that their desire and abilities alone will be insufficient for the task.
Jesus’ transformative work is possible only with the power of his Spirit — that is the strength of his loving presence.
It’s the difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. For the latter to take place, we must sometimes wait and trust in God’s timing.
For instance, my friend Julie, a devout Catholic, very much wanted her husband Scott to share her faith, but over 20 years of marriage he showed no interest. She prayed for him earnestly but didn’t believe in pushing him to participate in church.
Then, grieving over her father’s death, Julie herself wandered away from the church for a time. She returned after attending a women’s retreat, where she received the emotional and spiritual healing she needed.
Subsequently, she joined a Bible study group who asked her to invite Scott to come along. Although uncertain about the wisdom of such an invitation, Julie assured Scott the group had no intention of converting him to Catholicism but simply wanted to know him and learn from his early experiences of faith in another tradition.
To her surprise, Scott accepted and quickly became an enthusiastic participant. He also began attending church with Julie and was welcomed by more of her friends. Then he signed up for a retreat where other men in the community shared their experiences of God with him. “It changed my life,” he told everyone who would listen.
Julie had waited and the Spirit did not disappoint — it first renewed her and then embraced Scott with the unconditional love and encouragement that can only come through Christ.
— Jean Denton
When have you felt inadequate in your efforts to evangelize? How have you witnessed the Holy Spirit of Christ providing the necessary power to bring the Gospel message to life in someone?