Ascension year C – Power From On High

 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth” – Acts 1:8. And then he ascended to the heavenly realms. The apostles were anxious about Jesus’ departure, about what would happen to them and to the mission he had entrusted to them. Jesus reassured them with the promise that they would receive a power from on high that would lead them along the path of being his witnesses. What are we, who live some two thousand years later, to make of this promise of power from on high? How do we follow him as his witnesses today?

We need to go back to Jesus’ dying breath on the cross, his first departure from this world, his first “ascension” so to speak, when he breathed forth his spirit.  The power of his death had an electrifying effect on his disciples. Even the Gentile centurion who stood nearby gave glory (witness) and praise to God. We know from the Acts and Paul’s writings that Jesus’ disciples were empowered to witness to him with enthusiasm, energy and a great deal of courage and hope. The Ascension and Pentecost were two revelatory events that flowed from the Cross and sealed it forever in the minds and hearts of the faithful

The Ascension, the final departure of Jesus, brings me back to the mysterious power of the cross. Many years ago while visiting the Auschwitz extermination camp I was struck by the crowd that paused in silence and awe, many on their knees, before the cell in which St. Maximillian Kolbe was given a lethal injection by the Nazis in 1941. The power of the cross was there in that place. On Sunday 15th May 2022 the Dutch martyr, Fr. Titus Brandsma, who was executed by lethal injection in 1942 in Dachau concentration camp, was canonised. According to an eye witness of his canonisation two weeks ago, “the whole of Rome was swamped with pilgrims who came from all over” to the event. Power from on high creates such witness.

I think the Spirit of God is neglected in our everyday practice of the faith. When we read in the Book of Genesis that the Spirit of God was hovering over the initial waters of creation it is important to remember that the same Spirit is still involved in creation, hovering over it in every moment of every day. We need to be aware that the Spirit is like the breath of God breathing in us, praying in us; at times warming and energising us to forgive and forget; sometimes exciting us with warm and generous attitudes of kindness, goodness and gentleness; now and then overflowing our soul with peace and contentment come what may. It is from the Spirit of God we receive a life that neither the world can give nor death destroy.

Fr. QQ – 05/25/2022

 There is depth in ordinary things, but only if we notice. – John Pritchard

 

 

 

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