Sunday, May 12, 2013
This week was a particularly special Sunday of the church calendar in that it commemorated Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Because of this event, there was not only a Gospel from John on the subject, but also a reading from the Acts of the Apostles describing the incident in further depth.
The Gospel from John consists mostly of a very poetic prayer said by Jesus before his Ascension that focuses on his hopes for the world after he is gone. He begins by praying that the world will accept him as the true savior and begin to acknowledge the love of God. A recurrent theme throughout the prayer is that Jesus gives all glory for his good works to God, specifically using the phrase, “the glory that you gave me” several times. This is an exceptional example for us to follow, as I doubt many of us remember to do this on a regular basis. Of course it doesn’t have to be as extreme as reciprocating compliments with, “Oh no, no don’t credit me, it was all my dude Jesus.” Rather, we could simply acknowledge to ourselves or in our prayers that our gifts and talents come from God. Consciously reminding ourselves of this on a regular basis is a good exercise in humility and gratitude towards God.
The passage from Acts, on the other hand, is more descriptive and serves as a narrative of the event. The reading tells how the Apostles were curious about the end of time and the restoration of the kingdom. Jesus responds that it is not for any man to know the day or the hour. He also tells them that they will receive the Holy Spirit and will need to be witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, but “to the ends of the earth”. Finally, he is raised into heaven.
Though these two passages have different focuses and ways of telling the story of the Ascension, they do have one thing in common, as mentioned by Mark Hart in his video commentary: Jesus is calling us to carry on his mission through the Ascension. The reading from Acts concludes with two angels asking the men, “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” This rhetorical question is a call to action, as if to say, “There is work to be done”. In the Gospel of John, Jesus continuously expresses the hope that his Word will be carried on by his disciples for the rest of time. As Hart says, “We are all on a mission”.
It is the Ascension that reminds us that Jesus is still waiting for us and waiting to greet us at the end of time. Hart makes a point of saying that Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer and this fact should give us confidence in his compassion and love and that he will help us through our lives, as long as we have faith. This should also give us more of a motivation to carry out Jesus’ Word through our daily lives.
In conclusion, there are many lessons to be learned from the story of the Ascension. It serves as a reminder for us to give all glory to God at the end of the day, as Jesus did in his final moments on Earth, and reminds us that we are called to fulfill Jesus’ mission and ensure that it never fades. The Ascension also reminds us that Jesus is waiting for us in Heaven and will return at the end of time. Because of this, we must always be steadfast in our faith and do our best to never wander from the path of God.
Beyond Words May 12th, 2013. Perf. Mark Hart. Faithandlifetv, 2013. Youtube Video.