Daily Readings Reflection for 5/24/09

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Reflection on the Daily Readings for 5/24/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Ascension. Acts 1:1-11. Psalm 47:2-3.6-7.8-9. Ephesians 1:17-23.
Mark 16:15-20. Lectionary # 59:

There is no doubt about it! All of the readings including the Psalm and its
response are able to serve for our celebration of the Ascension and our
deepening of its meaning within our lives.  With a Christian re-reading of
the Psalm it is a perfect announcement of the feast.  With a going deeply
into this mystery we are nourished by the selection from Ephesians.  And
with the addition to the former ending of Mark’s Gospel by a redactor we
are seeing the creative energy this event gives to the community that
produced the additional closing of that first written Gospel.

Our own hearts are lifted up by the Ascension mystery as it is celebrated
in the readings and the Eucharist.  It a fitting transition not only for
Jesus but also for the apostles and ourselves who await the coming of the
Holy Spirit “not many days hence.”  The “little while” of Jesus’ return is
now over and he leaves the apostles and his friends and followers in order
to return to the Father, to sit at his right hand, and to be glorified.
The fullness of the fifty days of unbounded joy are not quite over. We can
relish the promise of the Spirit and still remain in contemplation of the
Ascension.

Our new song of joy is well expressed in the response and the verses of the
Psalm. The trumpet blasts were and will be sounded in many churches as
Jesus is glorified. ” (Jesus) God mounts his throne to shouts of joy; a
blare of trumpets for the Lord.” God reigns, Jesus reigns, over the
nations, God sits upon his throne.”

Luke in his subprologue to the Gospel (see Luke 1:1-4) now sums up what was
important in the Gospel: “In the (my) first book I have narrated all that
Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up, after he had
given instruction through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had
chosen.” Luke 24:50-51 recounts the Ascension as occuring on Easter Sunday
night, but in Acts it takes place forty days after his resurrection. Thus
the traditional Ascension Thursday is celebrated in some dioceses.  The
celebration on a Sunday assures us of its link to the Resurrection and of a
larger community coming together due to pastoral considerations about the
weekdays of work. This should give us the message then to observe Sunday as
a day of prayer, leisure and leaving aside of “work”. This prepares the
apostles and us to cooperate in the mission of the Holy Spirit which
continues what Jesus had preaced and done on earth.  We are to be witnesses
of this and also to be those who celebrate him as ascending to the right
hand of the Father. Now we are ready to continue the mission: “You will be
my witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria, and even to the end of
the earth.”  We are not to speculate about when Christ will come again.
This was not for the earthly Jesus to know nor for us.  “Since the
Ascension takes place from the Mount of Olives, where God will come in
final judgment and manifest kingship over all the earth (Zech 14:4-21), the
two can predict (that is the two angels) that Jesus will come back as he is
seen going.” (Raymond E.Brown,SS.)

In Ephesians which is a circular letter meant for all of the Churches, the
mystery of the Ascension is reflected in the Thanksgiving of this letter
(1:3-23). It celebrates the restoration of Christ in all things in heaven
and on earth. The writer of the letter sees in the church, Jesus’ body, the
fullness of him who fills all in all. It is part of God’s goal in God’s
plan which involves the whole of creation; the church therefore has a
future dimension.

Thus we lift up our hearts and respond to the Preface of the Eucharist, “We
have lifted them up to the Lord.” Amen.

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