(Note: The reflection below is used when the Solemnity of the Ascension is transferred to Sunday. For the reflection on the Ascension scroll down.)
Thursday, May 25, 2017
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” John 16:20
Grief, mourning and even weeping is a part of life. Children will often weep at the slightest difficulty, but all of us face grief and sorrow throughout life.
In this passage above, Jesus informs His Apostles that sorrow and grief will be a part of their lives. This is a very sober but realistic statement on the part of our Lord. It’s an act of love, on His part, to be up front with His Apostles about the coming hardships they will face.
The good news is that Jesus follows this statement with the hopeful news that their “grief will become joy.” This is the most important part of what Jesus says.
The same is true in our lives. Jesus does not promise us that our lives will be free from hardship and pain. He does not tell us that following Him means that all will be easy in life. Instead, He wants us to know that we will follow in His footsteps if we choose to follow Him. He suffered, was mistreated and ultimately killed. And this would be tragic if He did not ultimately rise from the dead, ascend into Heaven and transform all prior grief and pain into the very means of the salvation of the world.
If we follow in His footsteps, we need to see every bit of grief in our lives as potentially a means of grace for many. If we can face the hardships of life with faith and hope, nothing will ultimately keep us down and everything will be able to be used for God’s glory and will result in great joy.
Reflect, today, upon these words of Jesus. Know that He was not only speaking them to His Apostles, but also to you. Do not be scandalized or shocked when life deals you some difficulty. Do not despair when suffering is placed before you. Surrender all things to our Lord and let Him transform it into the joy that He promises in the end.
Lord, I surrender to You all suffering in my life. My grief, hardships, sorrow and confusion I place in Your hands. I trust that You are all-powerful and desire to transform all things into a means of Your glory. Give me hope in times of despair and trust when life is hard. Jesus, I trust in You.
(In many dioceses throughout the world, the Feast of the Ascension is transferred to this coming Sunday. Where the Ascension is celebrated today, Thursday, May 25, the reflection is as follows.)
The Continuing Presence of Our Lord
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. Mark 16:19-20 (Taken from Year B)
Jesus completes His mission on Earth and ascends into Heaven to take His seat on His glorious throne for all eternity. Or does He? The answer is yes and no. Yes, He does take His seat on His glorious throne, but no, He does not complete His mission on Earth. The Ascension is both the end and the beginning. It’s a transition to the next phase in the perfect plan of the Father. And understanding the way this plan unfolds should leave us in wonder and awe.
Sure, the Apostles were probably somewhat frightened and confused. Jesus was with them, then He died, then He rose and appeared various times, and then He ascended to the Father before their eyes. But He also told them that it is good that He goes. In fact, He said that it’s better that He goes. They must have been confused. Jesus also told them His Advocate would come to lead them into all Truth. So the Apostles went from joy, to fear, to relief and more joy, to confusion and sorrow, to curiosity and uncertainty.
Sound familiar? Perhaps that’s the way some find their lives to be. Ups and downs, twists and turns, joys and sorrows. Each phase reveals something new, something challenging, something glorious or something sorrowful. The good news is that the Father’s plan is unfolding perfectly.
The part of the perfect plan we find ourselves in with this solemnity is the part where Jesus begins to direct His mission of establishing the Kingdom of God from Heaven. His throne is, in a sense, the driver’s seat of our lives. From Heaven, Jesus suddenly begins to descend continuously into our lives fulfilling His mission in and through the Apostles, as well as all of us. The Ascension does not mean Jesus is gone; rather, it means Jesus is now present to each and every person who turns to Him and surrenders their life to His mission. From Heaven, Jesus is able to be present to all. He is able to live in us and invites us to live in Him. It’s the new beginning of the Church. Now all the Apostles need to do is wait for the Holy Spirit to descend.
Reflect, today, upon the abiding and intimate presence of our Lord in your life. Know that Jesus invites you to share in His mission. From His glorious throne He wants us to “preach everywhere.” He wants to invite each one of us to do our part. The part of the Father’s plan entrusted to each one of us is not entrusted to another. We all have a share in that plan. What is your part? How does Jesus direct His mission through you? Ponder this question today and know that He accompanies you as you say “Yes” to your part in the glorious unfolding of His perfect plan.
Lord, I do find that my life is filled with many ups, downs, twists and turns. There are joys and sorrows, moments of confusion and clarity. In all things help me to continually say “Yes” to Your plan. Jesus, I trust in You.