This week we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. We know that on this day, forty days after Easter, Jesus commissioned his disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28:19). Jesus assured his disciples and all of us, ‘I am with you always, to the very end of the age’(Mt 28:20). And Jesus was then ‘taken up into heaven’ (Lk 24:51).
How does the story of the Ascension speak to us? In the Old Testament (2 Kings 2) we hear of how Elisha, knowing that Elijah wouldn’t be with him much longer, asked to be blessed with his spirit. After Elijah was taken up to heaven, Elisha, we are told, tore his own garment in two and picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him. Elisha, filled with the spirit of Elijah, carried on his work and legacy and performed many miracles.
The Feast of the Ascension calls us to reflect on how we are living out the commission of Jesus to proclaim the Good News. How are we making our voices heard? How are we making known the message of Jesus to the world? How aware am I that I too am infused with the Spirit of Jesus? Am I prepared to tear my own garment in two and pick up the cloak of Jesus? St Paul was able to say, ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’
Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk, says, ‘The grace of the Ascension enables us to perceive the irresistible power of the Spirit transforming everything into Christ despite any and all appearances to the contrary.’
So, this week, let us pray a blessing inspired by the writings of St Paul:
May God give you a spirit of wisdom and perception, to bring you to full knowledge of Him.
May God enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope God’s call holds for you.
May God, through the Holy Spirit, enable you to grow firm in power with regard to your inner self, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, with all God’s people you will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and depth; so that, knowing the love of Christ, you may be filled with the utter fullness of God.
May you grow in the realisation that the power of Christ’s Spirit working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
This week we also pray for our Muslim sisters and brothers, who begin the holy month of Ramadan. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage. May this fast be for them a time of blessing, of deepening their relationship with Allah and of growing concern and care for their neighbour.
READ: Passing on the Spirit – Fr Ronald Rolheiser
WATCH: What is Ramadan?
CONSIDER: Spend a few moments with the Reflection of Pope Francis on the Ascension