Study: Think about a major transition in your life. Who helped you?
Pray: Where do you see opportunities for growth in your life? Ask the Lord for guidance and strength.
Serve: Is there someone you are mentoring right now, or someone who would benefit from your help? How might you help them grow?
Over the years of my own priesthood, I have come to cherish the Feast of the Ascension. Consider these “steps” in the mission of the Lord:
- Birth – the Incarnation, in which Jesus becomes the bridge between Heaven & Earth
- Teaching – the Lord’s ministry of teaching & healing with the disciples
- Passion & Death – the saving sacrifice where Jesus offers his life for us
- Resurrection – Christ’s triumph over sin and death, once for all
- Ascension – Christ now leaves his disciples so that they can continue his work
- Pentecost – where Christ asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit to empower the Church
The Ascension – in which the disciples saw the Lord ascend into Heaven – is thus a crucial aspect of Christ’s mission. Everything before the Ascension was part of God’s plan of salvation, and now the early Church must begin to continue this mission in a new way.
Think about it. This feast is a moment when the Church has to start growing up! It’s about walking on your own, putting into practice what you’ve been taught, and learning to do for yourself what others formerly did for you.
We see this in life. Parents teach and care for their children so that they can one day be independent and live on their own. Teachers work with their students and rejoice when their academic work takes them to new opportunities far beyond the classroom. Coaches and mentors spend countless hours with youth to help them mature into adulthood. This process is good, blessed, and wholesome.
And it’s hard. Let’s be clear: empowering people to grow up also means that they often take flight and leave us. They move on, and we must face the challenges of letting them go so they can grow: parents watch their kids move away; teachers watch their students pass on to the next grade; coaches say farewell at the end of a season.
Yet this process – with all it’s blessings and burdens – is the way we develop as persons. It’s the journey that strengthens us so that we can mature into the full stature of our life in Jesus Christ. The Lord’s grace is meant to transform us, and while this is seldom easy, it is always done with heavenly help.
Ascension, John Singleton Copely, 1775, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.