Reflection: Ascension of the Lord

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Acts 1:1-11; Ps.46; 2nd Reading – Eph.1:17-23; Gospel – Lk.24:46-53]

“HE BLESSED THEM”

This is one of the last speeches of Jesus to his disciples. Jesus reminds them what is written in the Old Testament about him, and what he himself had taught them about who he really is. It is one of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit, as we heard in last Sunday’s gospel. Jesus is thus acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit or as the Holy Spirit himself.

Jesus also tells his disciples that they are “witnesses to this”. But what is the “this” he is talking about? What are they going to witness to? Are they witnesses of what is written about the Christ? – that he should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead…? – something that has not yet happened! Are they to witness to what he has taught them? — that in his name repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem…? Are they to witness to the fact that Jesus is acting by the power of the Holy Spirit…? Again, what are they going to give witness of?

A witness is someone who has the experience of something: someone who has seen, heard or can vouch for the truth of something because he/she was there. It is not by hearsay, but by direct experience. Therefore the witness has the duty to give evidence to what really happened. In today’s gospel, Jesus is reminding his disciples of this duty — to be witnesses and give evidence of what they experienced with Jesus. And they had a lot of things to give evidence of… because they were with him!!!

First of all they have to give evidence that Jesus is the Christ, in accordance with the Old Testament. He is the suffering Christ that experiences the intervention of God in his life, and therefore on the third day, he will rise again — something unheard of, but foreseen for this suffering servant obedient to the will of God. They have to give evidence about, and preach in his name, the repentance for the forgiveness of sins — something that was done by the prophets (the last of which was John the Baptist), and something which Jesus himself did at the beginning of his ministry… Therefore there are a lot of things they have to give evidence of, especially since they have been with him… for three years.

But although Jesus reminds them of their witnessing, he also tells them that they must do so “when they are clothed with the power from on high”. While in other texts Jesus says that it is the Father who will send them the Holy Spirit, here, it is Jesus himself who is giving them what the Father has promised. Jesus can give them the Holy Spirit because he has the Holy Spirit in Him. It is through this Holy Spirit that the disciples can be witnesses of Jesus. And it is from Jerusalem, the city of the temple, the city of the presence of God that they should start to give evidence.

What about us? Have we had direct experience of Christ in our life? What are we witnessing to?

“Lord, give us the wisdom to be able to be conscious of your presence in our life. thank You Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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