Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……

Breathe in all that is of God and from God…all that is true, honest, pure, admirable, noble, decent, virtuous, worthy of praise, good, loving, kind – all that deserves respect..

Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence, into pure joy. Keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity. Come to that place, that space within, that place of deep silence – Solitude…to just being here and now, without having to accomplish something.

Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that come with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

It’s time to rest with God……to rest in God. This hour…..this moment…..rest in God.

Good-bye to all goals, projects, structures, situations, feelings, thoughts….I am in meditation, in contemplation, resting in God, abiding in God.

Our meditation today is on the Ascension of the Lord. The Gospel of Mark tells us that the “Lord Jesus was taken up to heaven and took his seat at God’s right hand” (Mark 16:19)

Mark tells us the story of Jesus taking his disciples “to task for their disbelief and their stubbornness since they had not put faith in those who had seen him after he had been raised”.

Jesus rose from the dead and first appeared to Mary Magdalene, but the followers of Jesus refused to believe her testimony. Neither did they believe the two disciples, who had an experience of the risen Jesus, while they were on the road to Emmaus. Finally, Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples and rebuked them for their disbelief (Mark 16:9-15).

The disciples did not expect Jesus to be visiting Mary of Magdala after his resurrection. After all, her past was not great and she was not one of the specially chosen apostles….she did not fit the common criteria for a visit from the world beyond…..What a surprise!

Be open! The Lord has his own way of surprising us! He comes to us through the most unexpected people, events, places and situations! Remember the burning bush, the gently breeze, the manger, the cross and the empty tomb! Surprise!

Jesus surprised them again by sending them with his message to fulfill his mission. Then he sent them with the mission: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation”.

Men of weak faith, men who could not see beyond their disappointment, men who did not grasp all that Jesus said to them about his death and resurrection while he was among them, were sent to proclaim the good news of the resurrection! (Mark 16:15-20) Jesus trusted these men with all their “disbelief and stubbornness” and sent them with his mission of bringing good news to the world. What a surprise!

It is amazing to remember that Jesus called and trusted his men with all their “disbelief and stubbornness” to be his witnesses and sent them with his mission of bringing good news to the world. Today, we, with all our limitations and inconsistencies, lack of understanding and misunderstanding, are trusted with this good news and sent to bring this good news of Jesus to the world.

Don’t wait and don’t hesitate to share and announce the good news of God’s love till you have fully matured in faith!

This is the story of the ascension of the Lord, the story of the Church being called, sent and empowered to continue what Jesus began. It is the story of Jesus asking the disciples to become more fully involved. It is the story of the disciples being empowered to live and to share the good news of Jesus. The feast of Ascension calls us to wait and remain open to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and be empowered to continue to fulfill the mission of Jesus.

Be still! Wait patiently! Wait with open arms, minds and hearts!

May the Holy Spirit fill you with all the gifts you need to fulfill your mission in life!

The meaning of Christ’s Ascension,’ writes Pope Benedict VI, ‘expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God.’ It would be a mistake to interpret the Ascension as ‘the temporary absence of Christ from the world.’ Rather, ‘we go to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him.’ Heaven is a person: ‘Jesus himself is what we call “heaven.”

Remember the words of Jesus: “Abide in me as I abide in you” (John 15:4)

Remember the prayer of Jesus: “I pray that they may be one in us as we are…I living in them, you living in me….”

Meditate, abide, dwell, and contemplate this mystery for a while: Heaven is a person: ‘Jesus himself is what we call “heaven.”

Abide in these thoughts for a while!

In chapter one of the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells us that Jesus had asked the apostles to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was going to surprise them with gifts, teach them what they did not understand, fill them with courage and strength to proclaim the risen Lord and to live the life which Jesus called them to live.

The Holy Spirit did surprise them and empowered the Church to continue where Jesus had left off at his death. The frightened disciples became free and unafraid and moved with courage and determination to proclaim Jesus!

Learn to wait, to be still…to wait to be strengthened by the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit.

In the excerpt referenced above, Luke recalls the questions which the disciples asked Jesus, “Are you going to restore the rule to Israel now?” They had misunderstood the message of Jesus about the kingdom. They thought in terms of an earthly reality, in political terms. Jesus had to change their concepts…..surprise again! This excerpt from Acts tells us that his disciples needed the Holy Spirit to teach them and empower them to carry on his mission. Jesus trusted the disciples with his mission and empowered them to continue and fulfill his mission.

Today, it is up to us to continue the mission of Jesus in and through the Holy Spirit.

Changed by the Easter event and empowered by the Holy Spirit, the first believers maintained a healthy unity, harmony among themselves despite differences; “community of believers was of one mind and one heart” (Acts 4:32-35).

Distinctions as regards gender, race, ethnic background, socio-economic status, etc. were causes of friction and separation among them…..but Easter changed everything! Belongingness to the saving cross and the death and resurrection of Christ changed them radically. They were a new people and they were one, unified, harmonious group…they became a community in Christ!

Easter transformed their life and gave them new sense of belongingness in community!

We are Easter people! We are a community in Christ! We are the Body of Christ!

Acts of the Apostles tell us that the followers of Jesus were of “one mind and one heart” (Acts 2:42-47), that they were together in a common life, in the breaking of bread, in prayer, in listening to the word of God, the instruction of the Apostles and in ministering to the wider community. This is what attracted many to the early Christian community, “Day by day, the Lord added to their number those who were being saved (Acts 2:47).”

Peter, in his first letter challenged his readers to be living stones being built into a “spiritual house” – a community, not isolated, individualistic, solitary religion (1 Peter 2:4-9), but faithful people in communion, in fellowship, in union of mind and heart.

It is on the fidelity of the believers and their relationship to one another that the Church is built. It is our connection to Jesus, the living corner stone and our concern for one another that creates and sustains the Church. It is the spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit that gathers us, brings us together and holds us together forever!

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs