Ascension of Our Lord: Luke 24:44-53
Peace be with you!
Every Mother’s Day I think about all of the strong women who have influenced me. My elementary special education team always pushed me to do better and to meet my goals. My lead teacher for seven years helped me develop my writing skills. My physical therapist taught me to set short- and long-term goals and to continue to work toward those goals no matter what. My occupational therapist always could get me laughing and working toward goals, even on days when my muscles had other plans. She also helped me to recognize my own limits and understand that when I got tired I needed to rest. My classroom aide instilled patience and kindness in me as well as the knowledge of when to ask for help, especially when I was scared. There was also the school’s cook who always had me laughing. Her daughter became a volunteer in my special education classroom and was a mentor to me during the difficult teenage years and beyond.
Of course, my mother is my biggest supporter. She worked with my special education team to push me to meet my goals. My mother’s faith in the Triune God led me to follow Jesus Christ and to have a strong moral core. (I fall short sometimes, but I strive to live according to God’s will—and much of that is because of my mother.) All of these women have helped to form me into the woman I am today.
Reflection Questions: Who has influenced you? Did you have a mentor growing up? Do you have a spiritual director or pastor?
The transition from elementary school to middle school was difficult for me. At the end of sixth grade, I had a difficult time imagining going to middle school without my special education team whom I had been with for seven years. I remember crying a few times, because I scared of change and of not having their support. Of course, I would have a special education team in middle school, but the transition meant leaving behind everything I knew. These women knew me. They had watched me grow up. They were there for me when my parents separated and got divorced. Who could ever replace them?
Reflection Questions: Have you experienced a difficult transition in life?
At his ascension, Jesus says, “The scriptures say the Messiah will suffer, die, and rise after three days for the repentance and forgiveness of sins to be proclaimed throughout the world. You have witnessed these events, and now as the Father has promised, I am sending you out with the same power he gives me. Stay here until the Holy Spirit empowers you to proclaim the good news to the world” (see Luke 24:46-49).
I imagine the disciples are scared of the drastic change at Jesus’s ascension—the transition from having Jesus physically with them every day to not seeing him at all. Sure, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to guide the disciples, but what does that mean? How can someone they cannot see guide them? Like my transition from elementary school to middle school, the disciples are faced with the unknown. They cannot imagine life without Jesus physically being there.
Jesus promises to empower the disciples with the Holy Spirit to live out their faith. The Holy Spirit will empower the disciples to bring people to believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will go out and find those who have strayed away and bring them back into the fold. The Holy Spirit will lead the disciples, the apostles, and, later, us to pray for the sick, the lame, the poor, and the homeless. The Holy Spirit will be there for the disciples, the apostles, and us, just as Jesus was physically there for the disciples.
How do we know the Holy Spirit is here for us today? We know it every time we pray to God for healing or direction and witness our prayers being answered. When we pray for guidance, we seek the Holy Spirit for God’s wisdom. When we pray for Jesus to heal the lame, we seek the Holy Spirit for Jesus’s healing power. When we pray, we invite the Holy Spirit to show us Jesus’s power and might in the world. By answering our prayers, God demonstrates how he is still in the world. Sometimes God seems silents making us think our prayers are going unanswered, but in reality God maybe asking us to go in a different direction or we may need to repent and seek forgiveness before God can act on our behalf. Our hearts and minds need to be open to God’s call for our lives. God is not limited by time, a location, or a reason. God continues to express his love for us through healing us, forgiving us, and empowering us to go do his work in the world. This is how we know God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are still in the world today.
Reflection Questions: How has Jesus empowered you with the Holy Spirit? Do you pray over people for discernment and healing? Do you help the poor, the hungry, and the disabled?
As Jesus ascends to heaven, he promises to send the Holy Spirit, commissions the disciples to spread the good news, and blesses them. Jesus empowers the disciples to continue his work in the world by giving them his power and authority. The disciples watch Jesus go to heaven as he blesses them to embrace their continued journey in their faith, and through the disciples and apostles we receive the same blessings.
Reflection Questions: How is Jesus blessing you on your journey of faith?
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for promising us the Holy Spirit to lead us. Help us to live out the commission to spread the good news throughout the world. Bless us with the Holy Spirit as we pray for the sick, the lame, the poor, and the homeless. Bring about healing in the world, so we can see your power and feel your love. Amen.