Daily Reflection
The Feast of the Ascension

Andy Alexander, S.J.

Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
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The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
- Mt. 28:16

Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? - Acts 1:11

The Ascension stories highlight two things we disciples of Jesus still tend to do and they outline for us our Mission today.

"They worshiped, but they doubted." We worship him, but we doubt. Sure we do. We hold something back, don't we? Even in our most devout moments, we don't always fully give ourselves to the faith that our life is in his hands and that we have nothing to fear because he is always with us. In fact, we tend to live our day to day lives, not like people who fully believe in the resurrection and the hope and joy that gives, but like people who can easily get upset by the smallest of things. We can each take a little test right now. Let's make two quick lists in our head: 1) list the ways I show signs of living the hope and joy of the resurrection; 2) now list the ways I show I am upset, disturbed, impatient, frustrated, angry at the people, situations, circumstances around me. See what I mean? It takes great grace to be freed by the Good News, "I am with you always."

The second thing we tend to do is to catch ourselves "standing there looking at the sky." Jesus will return in glory, but we aren't supposed to stand flat footed, waiting for the return. We have a mission. Too often we get caught realizing that our faith in Jesus, the gift of grace given to us, is not just about keeping us from sin. It is not only about our relationship with Jesus - saying our prayers and avoiding evil. We are called to take his place in this world and to share the Good News with others - to make a real difference in bringing others to the Lord. Another simple, quick examination of my conscience can help. This involves a quick "self-grading." 1) What grade would I give my fundamental relationship with the Lord in my everyday life? A? B? C? D? 2) Now, grade what do I give my efforts at self-sacrificing love for the people closest to me, for those people with whom I struggle, and for the poor of the earth? A? B? C? D?

The point of these moments of self awareness is not to make us feel guilty, ashamed or discouraged. They help us, in the same way the disciples were helped, to head up the road back to Jerusalem and await the coming of the Holy Spirit. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." The Greek word Luke uses here is dunamis - which is translated "power." We get our words "dynamic" and "dynamite" from this word. The Spirit gives us something that can give a new dynamism to our lives, a new ability to do more than we could imagine, to be Jesus' witnesses.

Come, Holy Spirit, gift of Jesus and the Father. Come into my heart and give me peace. Please come and open the eyes of my heart. Give me more joy and more hope. Heal what needs to be healed. Warm what is cold in me. Set my heart free to forgive. Enkindle within me the fire of your own love. Let me heal and warm other hearts to know Jesus' healing love. Let me hear the cry of the poor. Let me join you in renewing the face of the earth!
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