LK 24: 46-53




If you were one of the early disciples of the Lord Jesus, and you learned that he was risen from the dead, what would you expect? That he will return to Jerusalem to display his power, confront his enemies and consolidate his group? It sounds just right to imagine the Lord Jesus fulfilling his promises and establishing his kingdom here and now.


Yet the Lord had something else in mind. Before his death, he said he was going back to the Father. He reiterated that his kingdom was not of this world. His ascension was part of his plan once his mission was accomplished. In his heart, Jesus placed his full confidence in his band of revitalized, rejuvenated disciples. For him, they were now READY.


First, the disciples were ready to become his body. The followers of Jesus were composed of people with different characters, status, economic standing, and visions. Jesus knew that though imperfect, this group of motley individuals were now capable of forming not mere external unity but real spiritual communion. He was ascending to heaven, never again to be physically present on earth but his disciples will be his new physical, real body on earth. He had confidence in them that they could unite to form a living community of faith.


Second, the disciples were ready for the Holy Spirit. The Lord has been preparing his disciples to receive a great Gift. He promised that once he was gone, the Spirit of God will take over and fill them with power. But they had to wait, pray and ask God earnestly for this Gift to come, and “in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Surely, the apostles did not know fully what that meant, but the Lord was confident that the heart of each one was capable of containing the joy, peace and courage that the Spirit will bring.


Third, the disciples were ready for mission. In his last days on earth, Jesus did not want his men and women to be scattered all over. Both in the first reading and in the Gospel, he tells them to remain in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was just supposed to be the starting point of an exhilarating adventure that will take the disciples to the whole world. They will indeed be “witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


At the Ascension the Lord was not disappointing those who trusted him. He was not abandoning those who hoped in him. He was not detaching himself from those who committed their lives to him. He ascended because he trusted his disciples, believed in their maturity, and empowered them to proclaim his message of salvation, love and peace. Let us thank the Lord for his trust in us and let this inspire us to continue serving him.


(photo: fr tam nguyen)