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 Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Acts 1:1-11; Ps.46; 2nd Reading – Eph.1:17-23; Gospel – Mt.28:16-20]


These are the final words of Jesus to his disciples in the gospel of Matthew, before he left them to go to the Father. Although he is going to the Father, and therefore leaving them, Jesus promises the eleven disciples that he will still be with them… “always” and “till the end of time” which links in very well with what we have been hearing over these last few Sunday-gospel-readings. Jesus promised his disciples that He will live in those who love him, and who keep his commandments. He repeats the same message again in today’s gospel, giving it the double emphasis [“always” and “till the end of time”] to assure the disciples that “he is with them”. Jesus’ promise was kept. At the same time, the promises made by the Father in the Old Testament were kept – God promised the Emmanuel (meaning God with us) and He sent Jesus to become one of us. Also the promise of the Holy Spirit that God made through Jesus was kept. Even though (at this point in today’s gospel) they have not yet received him… but when they do receive the Holy Spirit they will be ready to be Jesus’ “witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth”. At the same time they can also act in the name of Jesus. These eleven disciples who were ready to love Jesus and keep his commandments, are ready to receive the Holy Spirit and therefore will be ready to become witnesses of their experience with Jesus. But until they receive the Holy Spirit (at Pentecost) it appears that their human fragility seems to have the better part of them.

This human fragility remains to be an essential part of the human being’s existence wherever and whoever one might be. We are told in today’s gospel that although Jesus had arranged to meet his eleven disciples on the mountain in Galilee (which means that they have already met the risen Lord) some of them still hesitated to fall down before him (i.e. adore him). There were obviously still some who doubted his presence, failed to recognise him and failed to recognise his power. They should have known better because (1) they were always with him, (2) they have witnessed many times how extraordinary he was when he was with them and (3) there were times when they themselves recognised him as the Son of the Living God or God himself. But despite having had all these experiences with Jesus, we are told that at the moment of truth, some of them still “hesitated”.

Quite often we find ourselves having doubts not too dissimilar as some of these eleven disciples. We do listen to the word of God, we do “know” Jesus, even though we did not have the same direct experience as that of the eleven disciples, we hear and listen to his word (either read for us or we read it ourselves), we are baptised and we know what Jesus said in today’s gospel and we know that he kept his word. We also know that He is with us always and to the end of time (as He promised).

“Lord, thank you for always being there for us. Thank you for wanting to become part of our human existence and take on you our strengths and weaknesses. Give us the wisdom we need to let the Holy Spirit that the Father promised (through you) make his dwelling in our hearts. Let us be always conscious that you are already with us and in us… yes, to the end of time! Thank you Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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