As you may have heard, the American Bishops have moved the Solemnity of the Ascension, permanently, to the Sunday following Ascension Thursday. So, on this seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C, we celebrate the solemnity of Ascension, an important solemnity because it marks the return of Jesus to the Father; the permanent victory over death; the sole opportunity for us to have a defense counselor at the right hand of the Father interceding for us; and our certain hope that one day, we shall be where He is, as Scripture says: “I go back to the Father to prepare a place for you, and I will come back to take you to myself so that where I am, you also may be.”
It is important to note that one of the last instructions that Christ gave to His apostles before ascending back to the Father, as we can read in our first reading (Acts 1:1-11), was that they should not leave Jerusalem, but should wait there for what the Father has promised—the Holy Spirit. In other words, He didn’t want the apostles to engage in ministry without the help of the Holy Spirit. He knew that their success in preaching about this new kingdom was going to be dependent on their ability to walk with the Holy Spirit. This most important instruction was not just meant for the apostles alone; it was also meant for all of us; a reminder that before we set out for any business, project, undertaking, or endeavor, we must commend ourselves to the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit, for Scripture says, “Bring your work unto the Lord and your plans shall be established” (Proverb 16:3).
My friends, while here on earth, we are struggling with powers that are not just flesh and blood but with principalities, authorities, and dominions of darkness in the heavenly places (Ref Ephesian 6:12). We must never take this lightly. This is why, in all that we do, we must find it in our heart to invite the Holy Spirit to take control of our endeavors, our aspirations in life, our goals and dreams; to invite him to lighten the dark spots in our lives, to awaken the dead places in our humanness, to counter the desperation in our hopes, and to lead the way so that we can follow. Scripture says, “The ways of the Lord are just and right”.
No wonder Christ instructed His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they were “Clothed with power from on high”. He knew they needed help from above to succeed in their mission; and so do we. The power of the Holy Spirit is the power we need if we must make any positive impact on our world; if we must make disciples of all nations; if we must work for the Lord and for the sake of His kingdom.
As an experienced teacher, Christ understands the human heart and how it works; its deceits and compromises, it’s bent on resisting the word of God, and what it takes to convert it. There is no doubt that we are intelligent human beings, creative and innovative, and yet manipulative, deceitful, and fallible to sin and wrong doing, and therefore, in need of divine help to make it through life and come into glory with the Lord. The Holy Spirit is the key solution here and so, as we look toward Pentecost Sunday, let us continue to ask the Lord to send forth His spirit upon us so as to renew our lives and our ways of being, our hopes and aspirations, and our dreams and goals.