“There is cause for great rejoicing here…” So states the First Letter of Peter in chapter one, verse six, which was read on the Second Sunday of Easter.
Those words entered my thoughts as I reflected upon the Scripture readings for the Ascension of our Lord, which we just celebrated. They express the glory and the hope that abound for all of humanity in the Lord Jesus’ ascension into heaven. The leave-taking that we celebrate on this occasion is not about death; it is wholly centered in life. That is where our gaze is riveted — on the life that will never end.
In this seventh and final week of the Easter season, you and I are invited to rejoice in both Jesus’ victory over sin and death and in the glorious life he has secured for us. We also pray, using the words of St. Paul, that we might know three specific aspects of the new life that is ours: (1) the hope to which he has called us; (2) his glorious inheritance in the saints; and (3) the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe (cf. Eph. 1:18-19).
As Christians, our hope will not leave us disappointed because it rests in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus has overcome sin and its effects forever! Every day, we can live in confidence, knowing that God himself is with us to strengthen and comfort us. The Ascension is about destiny, the end to which we are all called: life with God forever!
Therefore, our hope is also founded in the inheritance that Jesus has won for us and in Jesus’ own promise that he has prepared a place for each of us in the heavenly kingdom. Jesus has broken down the barrier of sin and death and has opened the door to heaven for us. Though we are sinners, we have been forgiven and redeemed! We are God’s children now and he blesses us with immortality in the life to come!
Finally, as we live every day in the hope of our eternal inheritance, this feast proclaims to you and me that the Lord works with us in this present day and age, because in his Ascension, Jesus’ power and presence is no longer limited to a specific time and place, but extends to the ends of the earth. This is seen in the gift of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and Son, the other “Advocate” Jesus spoke about before his return to the Father.
In his letter to the Church of Galatia, St. Paul writes of the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (5:22-23). Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew says that like a tree, believers will be known by the fruits of their lives (cf. 7:16, 7:20, 12:33). More than ever in these days, Christians are being asked to witness to who they are by the way they lead their lives, especially in their care and love for neighbor. If you and I don’t see our lives producing such fruit, then we might need to ask our Advocate to come to our aid and assistance that our daily living might resemble and radiate Jesus Christ to those around us.
Nonetheless, all of this is cause for rejoicing! Therefore, we cannot just stand around like a bump on a log, for you and I are also being commissioned and sent forth by Jesus to proclaim this Good News to others. Yet, before we go, let us allow the hand of the Lord to feed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the hand that desires to support and sustain us all our days right into eternity!
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.