May 26 and 29, 2022
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Ascension of the Lord
Lectionary: 58

Acts 1:1-11
Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23
Luke 24:46-53

Praying Ordinary Time

For those celebrating Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest

For those celebrating the Seventh Sunday of Easter today

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying As We Age

Back in the early sixties, in the Jesuit Novitiate, each Spring, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta was performed by the good singers of the class. The less-blest of us were given the opportunity to practice and sing, humilified, the Proper of the Ascension Mass. The first words of the Entrance Antiphone are the same for the Mass today, except they were in Latin and in Gregorian Chant. “Men of Galilee” or “Viri Galileei.”   I could actually sing all the parts even today.  We practice so hard and wanted to go up into heaven with Jesus rather than sing in chapel, assisting to pray those smirking members of the cast of "The H.M.S. Pinafore."  Some of us are known even today as the Viri Galileei Choir, with pride now I’d say, after sixty years.

We have kind of two Gospels in today’s sacred liturgy. In the First Reading from the Gospel of the Holy Spirit which we know as Acts of the Apostles we hear of the beginning or birth of the Church. The second Gospel in this celebration is from Luke’s account of the birth, life and death and rising and the ascending of Jesus. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is ascending through His journeying up to Jerusalem. In Luke’s Gospel of the Holy Spirit Jesus asends, and as we will see, the Holy Spirit descends.   So it is that the story of God has its downs and ups.

In the first Chapter of Luke’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit descends to Mary of Nazareth to initiate the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. Luke has Jesus making His way up to Jerusalem. After His cruel downfall there, He rises and appears in proof of His Divinity and fidelity to His identity and to the world. What we hear in Luke’s account today, is that Jesus is lifted up after assuring his little group that they now have the mission to descend from Jerusalem to embrace all peoples with the Good News.

At the end of our First Reading from the Acts up the Apostles, we hear of the two, who were dressed in white, asking the Apostles why they are looking up, gazing off into the blue. We can join them, if we wish, gazing into the blue of mysteries or insufficiencies. What these two messengers are saying to the Apostles is, “get on with it!” "You have seen enough, heard enough, now be enough for the Body of Christ to take flesh in you individually and corporally as The Church."

The “men of Galilee” went back up to Jerusalem.   As with the "Viri Galille choir," they sang at times humilified with the more than scoffing listeners. They sang and their song continues when we are His Body revealing His Presence. We can be tempted that we are not ever enough. The Holy Spirit, Who inspired and guided that early Galilean band continues creating life in the Church and the world through such singers as ourselves. Don’t forget the words!!!     

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