The End is the Beginning —or— Deepening Your Understanding

(If you celebrate the Ascension in your diocese today, see the reflection below. Otherwise, skip to the next reflection and return to the Ascension reflection on Sunday.)

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Ascension of Our Lord (Year B)

Readings for Ascension

Video

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15–16

We celebrate today one more step in the completion of the mission of the Son of God. Humanity had sinned at the beginning of time and fallen from Original Innocence. God immediately began to prepare the world for the gift of eternal redemption by establishing a covenant with Noah, Abraham and Moses. He raised up various prophets and kings to further prepare His people for what was to come. And then, when the time was right, God entered our world through the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus, the Son of God, eventually entered into His public ministry, teaching, performing miracles, gathering the faithful to Himself, dying, rising and then appearing to His disciples in preparation for the Ascension. The Ascension completes the mission of the Son of God. Today we honor that definitive moment when God the Son, in His transformed and resurrected Human nature, ascends by His own power to the Father, bringing with Himself our humanity so that all humanity may ascend with Him.

As we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus, we must first see all that led up to that moment and seek to unite ourselves with all of those preceding events. We must listen to the words of the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament. We must especially listen to the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament and embrace His words without hesitation. And we must unite ourselves with His own death, dying to sin, so that we may also share in His Resurrection. Today, we must further see the invitation we are all given to ascend with Jesus to the Father. We must understand that where Jesus has gone, we are invited to follow if we only believe, embrace and live all that took place leading up to this glorious moment.

The Ascension was the end of Jesus’ life on Earth but also the beginning of our sharing in the life of Heaven. As Jesus ascended, He commissioned His disciples to go forth and “preach the gospel to every creature.” They were to preach to all about the saving plan of God that began at the time of Adam and Eve and was completed with the Ascension.

Reflect, today, upon your calling to not only share in this glorious moment of Jesus’ Ascension but also your calling to go forth and to do all you can to draw others into this new life. Reflect upon Jesus, Who also speaks to you today to invite you to bring others to that mountain. By teaching friends, family and all with whom God has entrusted to you to share the Gospel, you fulfill Christ’s mission to “go into the whole world” to gather the scattered people into the one fold of Christ so as to ascend with Him one day into eternity.

My ascended Lord, all things throughout history were but a preparation for the moment when You drew fallen humanity into Heaven to be with Your Father forever. Help me to always heed Your holy words, so that I, too, will share in Your Ascension. Use me, dear Lord, to also go forth and to draw many others to You so that the Kingdom will be filled with all those whom You have called. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Further Reading – Ascension

Prayer Meditation for the Ascension

Featured image above: Stained glass windows in the Mausoleum of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, via Wikimedia Commons

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(The reflection below is used when the Solemnity of the Ascension is transferred to the coming Sunday.)  

Deepening Your Understanding

May 9, 2024
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Readings for Today

Video

So some of his disciples said to one another, “What does this mean that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks? We do not know what he means.” John 16:17–18

How about you? Do you know what Jesus means? Or do you find that you are confused by what He said just like these disciples were? Though pride may tempt you to claim that you fully understand all that Jesus taught, the humble and honest truth is that you are probably very much like these disciples in their confusion. And that is not necessarily a bad place to be.

First, the confusion of these disciples shows they took Jesus seriously. They were not indifferent. They cared, were interested, wanted to understand, and must have had some level of faith in Jesus. Otherwise, they would have ignored Him. But they didn’t. They listened, tried to understand, discussed His teaching, thought about His words and humbly concluded that they didn’t understand.

Jesus is not critical of their confusion. He sees that they are trying and that they have some level of faith. And even though these disciples are confused, Jesus continues to speak to them in figures of speech rather than directly and clearly. One of the reasons that Jesus speaks in figurative language is because the message that He is teaching is profound and deep. It’s not something that can be quickly and easily understood and mastered. The mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are so deep, vast, profound and mystical that the only way to begin to understand them is to first have faith. Faith does not mean you fully understand everything. Faith is a supernatural gift by which you come to believe without fully seeing and understanding. The certainty comes from God, not from your own reasoning ability. But faith always leads to deeper understanding. Therefore, as these disciples professed their faith, they also came to understand. And even though Jesus speaks in this figurative way, these disciples ultimately made the choice to believe. Later in this chapter they conclude, “Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God” (John 16:30).

If you find yourself confused about various matters of faith, God, morality, and the like, or if you find yourself confused about the various mysteries of life itself, or your life in particular, do not be afraid to admit to this confusion. Admitting confusion is the humble admittance of the truth, and this humility will be a helpful step toward the gift of faith.

Reflect, today, upon whether you struggle at all with indifference toward the mysteries of life. If so, commit yourself to be more like these disciples who intentionally grappled with all that Jesus spoke. Do not be afraid to admit your confusion and to place that confusion before our Lord. Strive to have the gift of faith and allow that spark of faith to become the pathway for your deeper understanding of the many mysteries of life.

My mysterious Lord, You and all the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are so deep and profound that no one will ever fully comprehend their depth, breadth and beauty. Please open my mind, dear Lord, to a deeper understanding of You so that I may profess my faith in You and in all that You have chosen to reveal. I do believe, my God. Help my unbelief. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Saints/Feasts for Today

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples By Paolo Veronese, via  Wikimedia Commons

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