Reflection for Ascension Thursday
Barbara Ann Mayer, OSB | May 25, 2022
Let us try to picture ourselves with the apostles as Jesus is telling them he is going back to the Father. They must have wanted to cling to him and not let him go as we would, too. But, he tells them he must go, so that the Holy Spirit can come and fill them with zeal and courage and wisdom. They do not understand what this means, but they trust him. So must we.
The apostles know by now that Jesus keeps his promises, that he will not leave them alone. He came back after the Resurrection to prove that he has powers and abilities beyond their imaginations. He now trusts them to carry on his mission with the help of the Spirit. They need only to put themselves in his loving care and they will do even greater things, he tells them — and us.
It is good to remember that all of these apostles, except John, deserted Jesus at his crucifixion, and Peter even denied that he knew him. Yet, after the Resurrection, Jesus forgave them and sent them out to spread the Good News. Jesus understood human nature very well. He knew their frailty and the need to be infused with the Spirit.
We have seen the things that the apostles did after Jesus departed, how they made the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. They changed from frightened, ordinary men into messengers inspired by the Resurrection of Jesus. They were so zealous that, according to common belief, most of them were put to death for their preaching about the Resurrection.
We all have access to that kind of faith, that kind of “fire in our bellies.” We may wish we had been able to see Jesus in the flesh, but his Spirit living in us is just as real. If we truly believe this, we can be just as zealous and courageous as the apostles. Look at the saints, theologians, scripture scholars, artists, writers, and scientists who have revealed wondrous things about God and our world. But, many of us let our fears and doubts stifle our beings, so that we fail to do the spectacular things that the Spirit wants to do through us.
May we allow the Holy Spirit to stretch us, fill our flagging spirits, and give us the fire that is unquenchable, the courage to be light for our world.
Come, O Spirit, come.
Fill the hearts of your faithful people!