Daily Readings Reflection for 5/16/10

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Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Ascension, May 16.  Acts 1:1-11. Psalm 47:2-3,6-7,8-9. Ephesians
1:17-23. Luke 24:46-53.

Saint Luke greets us with the beginning of his second work, the Acts of the
Apostles.  Then in the Gospel we are treated with the conclusion to his
Gospel.  The Gospel, of course, has to be kept in mind as occurring before
the Acts in history, but in the liturgy we always give the place of honor
to the Gospel.  It is up to the listeners and the presenters to realize
this as we celebrate the Scriptural foundations for the Solemnity of the
Ascension. Luke himself is sometimes compared with an artist. He is that in
the literary style and the narratives that he gives us in both of his
works; he is also a theologian as well as an historian. To make his
curriculum vitae complete we need to accept him as an inspired Evangelist
as well as the other three roles that he has as a person.

Only Luke gives us a long period of forty days of Jesus’ appearances to the
disciples, apostles, and friends of the Lord.  He connects the last event
of Jesus’ earthly historical life with the Ascension (the Fourth Glorious
Mystery of the Rosary).  The liturgical celebration of the Ascension of
Jesus keeps this historical mystery alive in our hearts and gives us some
time to contemplate the coming of the promise of Jesus. The promise is the
sending of the Holy Spirit upon those gathered in the upper room in prayer
waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. This will happen next Sunday in
the liturgical celebration of the beginning of the Church through the feast
of Pentecost.

We may wish to imagine Mary, the mother of Jesus, gathered with those who
experience the Ascension of Jesus on a mount near Jerusalem.  She has been
with us throughout the Gospel of Luke and he will have her present as he
begins the second part of his inspired writing, the Acts of the Apostles.
He probably accomplished both works somewhere around the year 85 A.D. some
fifty years after the death of Jesus.  All of Luke’s narratives are easily
made into picturesque scenes often presented to us Christian art. They are
easily made into pictures in our own minds as we celebrate the Ascension
and Pentecost. We begin to understand why Luke was considered an artist as
we do reflect on the texts for this day.

It is only in the Ascension event that Jesus blesses those who are his
disciples and those gathered around him.  This prepares them for the
mission ahead once the Spirit descends upon them as they gather in the
cenacle in Jerusalem.  We await with them both his fulfillment of the
promise of sending the Holy Spirit and then experiencing the Holy Spirit in
prayer. Through our gift of Baptism we received the Holy Spirit.  We pray
about this gracious gift while singing the praises of God found in the
Psalm and its responsorial. Psalm 47 is an enthronement psalm. The jubilant
clamor and the lively sounds of the music that accompanied the words took
place in the Temple where the early Jewish Christians continued to remember
and celebrate with joy the words and deeds of Jesus our Messiah. In their
time the psalm referred to the greatness of God represented in the earthly
davidic king on the occasion of the renewal of the covenant and the
enthronement of God.

Returning to the first reading from Acts we realize we are entering a new
era of time–the time of the Holy Spirit.  Luke’s theological perspective
has remained the same with Jerusalem as the focal point, then prayer,
community, and the Holy Spirit become the threads or theological themes of
his narrative as we begin the Acts. We can renew our own reception of the
Holy Spirit at our Baptism that is easily called to mind at the beginning
of the liturgy or within our own personal prayer in silence. The promise of
Jesus is accomplished in all of the baptized who continue to believe and
witness to Jesus.   The Spirit acts as our internal adviser and leads us in
our spiritual growth and development as well as in our mission to others by
our witness to the Gospel.  The Holy Spirit will come and does come each day
into our hearts and calls us to holiness as our Sanctifier and Advocate.

Hope and joy fill our hearts on this Feast of the Lord.  The words of Pope
Saint Leo the Great catch what is our motivation and disposition for this
celebration: “The Ascension of Christ is our elevation. Hope for the body
is also invited where the glory of the head preceded us. Let us rejoice.”
Amen. Alleluia.

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