Monday, May 21, 2012

Devotion for today: look upward

Ascension of Jesus
Garofalo 1520

Today we will look at yesterday’s Gospel for the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven

 Scripture for meditation: Mark 16:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying sig 

St. Augustine tells us (Sermon for Ascension Sunday): Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies. Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me, and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food. Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unite us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love. He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body. Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head.

Prayer: Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
For king of all the earth is God;
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.

My thoughts: The Ascension is a glorious feast! It completes the entire life of Christ as he showed us the way to live and to die. It is the blueprint for us, so we have no fear of the future or of how our lives will end. Christ lived as a witness to the Father; he preached the Good News and gave hope to everyone he met. He performed works of mercy, found joy in the lives of children, had compassion for the dead, and spent time with his friends. He suffered humiliation, betrayal, rejection, hatred, and sorrow. He died a painful death, rose from the dead, and now, as a message to us all that life goes on after death, he arose into heaven! We now know the rest of the story! It doesn’t end with death, for there is no death for the soul. Rather, we simply leave our earthly bodies behind and hopefully ascend to be with God and his angels and his saints… or we descend to be with Satan and his minions forever. I choose the first. I know you do, too. Yes we believe that our souls may need to be cleaned up a bit in purgatory before we view the awesome sight of God, but we will be with him for eternity if we but follow what St. Augustine tells us, and believe that “we cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.” We are one with Christ, who is the head with his body. We live now in him on earth as his presence to others, following the example he gave us. Through all the difficulties that go with being a practicing Catholic today, we must remember the end of the story. It is really, really, good.

Our prayer to God: Today is a beautiful day, for today we know for certain that our lives make a difference to God. He needs us and we need him. Let us perform one work of random kindness today. Let us help one soul get to heaven by simply being the person God wants us to be. Ask him to show you what he wants you to do, and then do it! Now that is heaven on earth!

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