The Sunday Gospel
Fr Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap.
Some of the doors that have kept people locked in have been opened in recent days, but there is still a long wait until all doors will be opened. Religion has a huge role to play in sustaining hope by remembering the bigger picture of life.
We are celebrating the Ascension of the Lord to heaven. St Luke tells us that it was 40 days after the Resurrection. In the Bible, 40 usually refers to a time of preparation. The Risen Lord appeared in various ways to the disciples to help them in the transition from knowing him in human flesh to knowing him as the unseen God through Faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe.” After Jesus it would truly be a New Age…a new power, a new mission and a new hope.
A new power
Jesus promised: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Next week we will celebrate Pentecost; see how the power of the Spirit changed the apostles…from ignorance to belief, from fear to courage, from despondency to joy.
A new mission
On the Mount of the Ascension, the apostles were told not to be looking up to the skies but to look out to the world as a field of mission. “Go, therefore, make disciple of all the nations. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”
That mission and promise extends to our time. God is not just up there, but God is with us and in us. As Pope Francis put it, each one of us not only has a mission but each one is a mission to bring God’s love and compassion to others. “I have no hands now but yours.”
A new hope
The Ascension opens up the doors of heaven for us. This is beautifully expressed in the Preface for the Feast: “He ascended, not to distance himself from our lowly state but that we, his members, might be confident of following him where he, our Head and Founder, has gone.”
Stephen Hawkins described human life as “chemical scum on an average-sized planet, orbiting around a very average-sized star, in the outer suburb of one of a million galaxies.” Chemical scum! No, thank you! Give me our beautiful, meaningful and hope-filled Christian religion any day. Planets and galaxies suggest a big story but religion offers a story even bigger.
With St Paul we pray: “May God enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich graces he has promised the saints will inherit, and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers.”
Fr Silvester’s new book ‘Gospel Reflections and Prayers‘ is available at Columba Books.