Sunday 13 May 2018

The Ascension of the Lord 2018

The Ascension of the Lord 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading Acts 1:1-11
Responsorial Psalm 47: 1-2, 5-8 Response 5a
Second Reading Ephesians 1:17-23 or Ephesians 4:1-13
Gospel Mark 16:15-20

It is always interesting where there are alternate readings. You never know which one the parish will use until you are at your first weekend mass. But the focus of all the readings this weekend is the ascension, and our job on earth once Christ has gone to heaven. From the first reading we have:
"But you will receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Jesus is leaving the world. He has spent 40 days with the disciples, and now he is leaving. But he also promises to send the Holy Spirit. That same holy spirit we believe is imparted today. At baptism, at confirmation, through the laying on of hands, during holy orders. All believers have the Holy Spirit. But there is not the evidence that the early church had. It is not a faith on fire spreading throughout the known world. Churches are closing. People jump from parish to parish or denomination to denomination. Programs like Alpha that were popular among mainline churches twenty years ago, are now being used in Catholic youth groups, and Catholic prison ministries. But where is the Spirit? The Holy spirit energized the early church and they became witnesses!

The end of the alternate second reading is about the gifts of the spirit:
"The gifts he gave were that some would be Apostles, some Prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ."
The word that struck me most in this passage is unity. There is a lack of unity across denominations, and even within Catholicism. There are many critical of Pope Francis and Many who love pope Francis. Some think his teaching is unclear and leading to conflict. And some who do not think he goes far enough. Having read the history of pope, that jury is still out on Francis and how he will be seen in years to come. Not all popes are Saints, but I do believe that God guides all papal elections. But I know I should be praying for the pope, for priests and for vocations more than I do. 

The last phrase of the gospel reading is:
"And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it."
As we reflect on Christ's ascension let us pray for the power he promised, and that our lives will be witness to what we believe. That we will witness in word and in deed. 

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