The Ascension of the Lord
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47:2-3,6-9; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20)
Receiving the Power to be a Witness for Christ
You will receive power… and you will be my witnesses. (Acts 1:8)
Can you imagine how the apostles must have felt when Jesus made this promise just before he returned to heaven? Surely they would have recalled the fear and intimidation they had felt since the crucifixion. Memories of their having abandoned Jesus were probably still fresh in their minds. How could they even begin to hope that Jesus would give them a share in his power? How could they — weak men that they were — even begin to bring his message to the ends of the earth? But Jesus promised, and he always keeps his promises. In just a few short decades, the apostles did spread the gospel all over the known world!
Little did they know, but Jesus’ promise wasn’t just for them. It was for all people in every age to come. In a sense, Jesus was limited when he walked the earth as a man; he could be in only one place at a time. But now that he was going to heaven, he could send the Spirit to millions of people and work through all of them at the same time. When the Spirit did come on Pentecost, the disciples touched more than three thousand people in one day—and that set off a chain reaction. Day by day, and in the centuries to follow, countless disciples have spread the gospel to every corner of the earth.
Today, we are part of this glorious band of witnesses. Through us, Jesus can bring his kingdom to hurting and lost people all over the world. The power of sin can be pushed back more and more through our witness, our holiness, and our prayer. In homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods everywhere, Jesus can open hearts — through us!
So don’t be afraid to share God’s love. Jesus Christ, the ascended Lord, has given you the very same power that governed his life. And he gave it to you so that you could give it to everyone else.
“Jesus, it is an honor to be called your disciple. I want to see you exalted today as I proclaim your gospel with my lips and with my actions.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- The first reading describes the ascension of the Lord. After Jesus ascends, we hear these words from what are obviously angels: “This Jesus who has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” How important to you is Jesus’ second coming? How important should it be? Why?
- The responsorial psalm provides a foreshadowing of the joy and celebration that may have occurred in heaven upon Jesus’ return. Spend a minute or so in quiet reflection and try to imagine what your first day in heaven would be like. Were you surprised at what thoughts came to your mind?
- In the second reading, St. Paul prays a powerful prayer for the believers in Ephesus, and for us. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father is part of this prayer. Pray this prayer slowly and meditate on the words as you do. What does this prayer mean to you?
- The Gospel reading ends with the words that are the very last words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Why should these words fill us with joy, no matter what our current circumstances are? What steps can you take to be more open to Jesus’ presence during the day?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “So don’t be afraid to share God’s love. Jesus Christ, the ascended Lord, has given you the very same power that governed his life. And he gave it to you so that you could give it to everyone else.” In what ways have you experienced God’s love and power in your life, and then given it to others? What are the obstacles that hold you back from doing this? How can you overcome them?
- Take some time now to pray to receive the courage, boldness, and power to be a witness to others of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)