Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11
by Sister Maureen Niedermeyer, OSB
As the apostles witness Jesus being lifted up to heaven, they hear two men in white garments say, “Why are you standing here looking at the sky? This Jesus will return in the same way as you have seen him going up to heaven.” How does Jesus return to our daily lives now? Our faith brings his very presence to us in many ways, but especially in the sacraments and the Eucharist. May we have the grace to recognize his presence among us now in times of prayer, in our joys and sorrows, and in our compassion for others. We are called to another life and Jesus is our way to it.
The apostles are redirected from their experience of Jesus’ Ascension to their own responsibilities. They are called to be his witnesses in Jerusalem and to move out from there to the ends of the world. How do we witness to Jesus today in our lives and then to the wider world? It is in prayer that the Spirit enlightens us both to see the needs of others and to respond in love. We bring the light of Christ to the nations by our example, words, deeds and by our prayer.
In St. Paul’s letter to the Christians at Ephesians, he prays that their hearts be enlightened so that they might have hope. In today’s world of violence, fear, loneliness, and despair, it is our trust in the power and presence of God with us that strengthens us to continue hoping, knowing that we are never alone. We are promised an inheritance with Jesus not because of our own merits, but because he loves us and longs to have us with him in glory. Each of us can look forward to his coming at the time of our death.
The gospel speaks of the blessing Jesus gave the apostles before he left them. Certainly they were sad in his leaving them, but they must also have experienced great joy because they were to look forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit who would be their advocate. We, too, have been invited to be persons of joy, delighted that Jesus has also called us forth to share the good news that Jesus died, rose and returned to heaven in glory.
From the Rule of St. Benedict
“Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge. If you hear God’s voice today, do not harden you hearts.” Prologue v. 9 and 10
“Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world.” Matthew 28:19a, 20b