Ascension of the Lord—or—Unity and Perfection in Christ

(Note: If the Ascension was celebrated last Thursday in your diocese, scroll down to the reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.)

Witnessing to the Gospel

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord (Year C)

Readings for the Ascension


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.” Luke 24:46–49

And with that, the earthly mission of Jesus was completed and He ascended into Heaven. Or was it? Was His mission completed? Yes, but only in the sense that our Lord’s work of destroying death and offering new life was accomplished by His life, death and resurrection. Human nature was now invited to share in a new life of grace.

Prayerfully imagine standing on the mountain of the Ascension with our Lord. As you gaze upon Him, imagine that you were also present with Him throughout His public ministry. Imagine witnessing His many miracles, the way that He converted the hardest of hearts, the authority with which He spoke, His arrest, torture, death and then His Resurrection. Imagine seeing His hands and feet, once pierced, now radiating glory from those wounds. As you see our Lord in this way, imagine Him looking at you with love and saying to you that He has chosen to send you forth to the world to be a witness to Him and to all that you have seen and encountered. You are to go forth sharing the Good News of His life, death and resurrection with all whom you come in contact with.

First, our Lord has, indeed, shared His entire life with you. By reading the Gospels, you become a firsthand witness to all that Jesus did and accomplished. His Word is alive, and it reveals His very Person to you, just as it did to His first followers. Second, Jesus does call you to go forth and to share this living Gospel with the world. Therefore, it is important to ponder how you can do such a thing. How can you give witness to the Resurrection of Christ? How can you change lives? How can you continue the mission of Jesus Himself?

The promise given by our Lord to the disciples on the mountain of the Ascension is also a promise given to you. He is promising to send the Holy Spirit upon you so as to clothe you “with power from on high.” Only by receiving that power and using it fully will you be able to accomplish the mission that our Lord has given to you. Therefore, will you open yourself to the Holy Spirit and commit yourself to the continuation of Christ’s mission?

If we were to fully understand the mission we have received from Jesus, it would fill us with a holy fear. But too often the realization of what God wants of us fills us with an unholy fear instead. We think about evangelizing others, sharing our faith, witnessing to the truth by our actions, loving our enemies and living for the Gospel alone, and it can appear overwhelming. If that is the case with you, then know that this form of unholy fear can be dispelled so that the gift of holy fear can take its place. Holy fear is a gift of the Holy Spirit that inspires us to sense the awesomeness of God and the mission we are given by encountering it firsthand. It motivates us, encourages us and leaves us with wonder and awe. From there, this and every other gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the unending mission of Christ.

Reflect, today, upon the particular mission that God has given to you. Prayerfully look at Jesus as He stands on the mountain of the Ascension and looks at you. As He does, let Him reveal to you not only His very Person, but also your particular sharing in His ongoing mission of sharing the Good News to the ends of the earth. Receive that mission with courage, joy and holy fear. Reverence it, savor it, ponder it and accept it. Commit yourself to this glorious sharing in the life of Christ by committing yourself to become a witness to Christ until the end of your life on earth.

My ascended Lord, as You entered body and soul into the full and glorious presence of Your Father, You handed on to your disciples the duty of completing Your mission on earth. I hear Your call in my life, dear Lord, and commit myself to the glorious task of continuing that mission on earth. Please use me as You will and fill me with power from on high so that I may help share Your saving Word to the ends of the earth. Jesus, I trust in You.

Unity and Perfection in Christ

Seventh Sunday of Easter (When the Ascension was celebrated Thursday—Year C)

Readings for Today


Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one…” John 17:20–22

What an amazing prayer! Don’t miss the meaning of this prayer. This is Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer that He prayed just before He was arrested. This prayer concludes the Last Supper at which Jesus instituted the Most Holy Eucharist. It is truly His Eucharistic prayer that culminates in the offering of His life on the Cross. This prayer is not only a prayer; it is also a teaching about the life that we are invited to share in with our Lord.

Note that in the passage quoted above, Jesus prayed not only for the disciples, “but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” In other words, Jesus was praying for you and for everyone who would hear and respond to the Gospel. And His prayer was that you share in the perfect union that Jesus shares with the Father. He prayed that all may be one in the same way that He and the Father are one. Again, this is an amazing prayer!

To begin, it is important to understand the concept of unity. Deep within each of us is a longing to be united to another. The draw to marriage, the love of a parent and child, the desire for friends, and the bonding together as a community all point to this desire. We want unity. We want to be one. Unfortunately, our natural ability to form a holy union with others was deeply wounded by Original Sin. For that reason, the most central mission of the Son of God was not only to restore that which was lost, but to transform it into something even greater. Now, because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we are not only able to live in peace with each other, we are also able to share in a new spiritual union with God Himself. This union goes to the heart and soul of who we are.

Look within you and try to discover the innate desire you have for communion with others. When properly understood, pondering this desire is very consoling and enticing. If you can seperate selfishness, lust, and possessiveness from the equation, you are left with a very holy desire for union with others. Try to discover this desire within.

As you discover this desire that God placed within you, learn from Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. Understand that this desire is only completely fulfilled by entering into the life and unity of the Most Holy Trinity. We are called to share in God’s very life. When that happens, we also share in a perfect and holy union with one another. In this life, a holy marriage is an earthly prefiguration of that union that is to come. In Heaven, the divine marriage to which we are called will enable us to fulfill every human desire we have.

Reflect, today, upon the draw you have within you to live in union with others. As you ponder this desire, know that it can only be fulfilled by accepting the invitation from the Most Holy Trinity to share in Their divine life. Prayerfully read Jesus’ prayer to the Father and know that He was praying this for you. Join with Him in this prayer and make it your own so that your every human desire will begin to be fulfilled in God.

Most Holy Trinity, You have invited me to share in Your glorious life. You invite me to share in the unity that You share. Please purify me of every selfish desire and fill me with a desire only for You. May this union with You perfectly fulfill me and enable me to obtain true unity with others. Jesus, I trust in You.

Novena to the Holy Spirit
Prayed in preparation for Pentecost
Day Three – Sunday, May 24

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Further Reading – Ascension

Prayer Meditation for the Ascension

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