Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
1st Reading Acts 1:1-11
2nd Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
Responsorial: Psalm 47:2-3, 6-9
Gospel: Mark 16:15-20
Experiencing a Fresh Infilling and Release of the Holy Spirit
In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5)
Doesn’t it strike you as odd that Jesus would say this just before he ascended into heaven? Here he is, about to take up his throne as Lord of all creation, and he’s talking about something else! Why not talk about the glory that is about to come to him instead? These must be important words, then!
So what is this baptism in the Spirit that Jesus talked about, and why is it so important? We know that people involved in the Charismatic Renewal use the term, but it can’t be limited to just one renewal movement, can it?
No, baptism in the Spirit is a grace that anyone can receive.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the papal household, often says that it may not be a sacrament, but it is related to Baptism and Confirmation. It’s an experience in which we feel Jesus’ love in a deep way, and we begin to feel the graces of our Baptism and Confirmation in a new and deeper way. It’s as if they were released in our lives more fully, and we find new power to live out the gospel and to share our faith with the people around us. It’s the kind of grace that Peter and the other apostles experienced on Pentecost—and it’s meant for all of us!
This release of the Spirit in our lives is the “promise of the Father” that Jesus made possible for us when he died and rose and ascended (Acts 1:4). It’s the heritage of every believer in the Lord: the ability to live by the power of the Spirit and not just by human intellect and willpower.
Pentecost is only a week away. Let’s spend this time asking the Lord to bless us with a new Pentecost by releasing his Spirit in our lives. Let’s ask the Spirit to set us on fire, as he did for the apostles. May we all be eager, gracious receivers of this magnificent promise of the Father!
“Holy Spirit, come and set us on fire for you and for your Church!”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.)
Questions for Reflection or Group 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’ ascension and second coming? How important should they be? Why?
- The responsorial psalm provides a foreshadowing of the joy and celebration that may have occurred in heaven upon Jesus’ return: “God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts. Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praise.” The ascension of Jesus is also a day of great rejoicing and hope for us as we look forward to our own ascension into heaven. Why is this so?
- In the second reading (Ephesians 1:17:23), 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 these words concerning Jesus’ disciples: “they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20). How would you describe the importance of the “signs” that accompanied the disciples’ preaching? What about you? Do you believe the Lord wants to accompany your sharing of the Gospel with some types of signs? What are some examples of these signs?
- The meditation reminds us that the “release of the Spirit” that the disciples received at Pentecost is “the ‘promise of the Father’ that Jesus made possible for us when he died and rose and ascended (Acts 1:4). It’s the heritage of every believer in the Lord: the ability to live by the power of the Spirit and not just by human intellect and willpower.” What do these words mean to you? In what ways have you experienced “the ability to live by the power of the Spirit and not just by human intellect and willpower”?
- The meditation ends with these words: “Pentecost is only a week away. Let’s spend this time asking the Lord to bless us with a new Pentecost by releasing his Spirit in our lives. Let’s ask the Spirit to set us on fire, as he did for the apostles. May we all be eager, gracious receivers of this magnificent promise of the Father!” How important is it to you to experience “a new Pentecost” and a deeper infilling and release of the Holy Spirit?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for a deeper infilling and release of the Holy Spirit in your life, and for the Spirit to set you “on fire, as he did for the apostles.” Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.