May 24, 2020 - Ascension of the Lord
(Acts: l:12-14; I Pt: 4:13-16; Jn 17:1-11a)
The eleven apostles return to Jerusalem and the Upper Room as Jesus had commanded them. They are waiting united in prayer to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit we need to prepare by withdrawing with Mary, the faithful women, and the Apostles to our upper room, our place of prayer to invite a fresh anointing from the Spirit. This is why we attend the Sunday Eucharist: to receive the Son so that we might recognize the Spirit at Pentecost. In the Psalm we are reminded the Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call; have pity on me, and answer me. “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matt: 5:11-12) The common teaching is that this isn’t only the last Beatitude, but the greatest. Peter reframes this victimization as a blessing. They/we must not be cowered by the normal human feelings of shame or disgrace that insults bring. Peter cautions us not to suffer for the wrong things. God has united himself to us in our suffering by suffering in the Person of Jesus, and has made suffering a blessing. Only this can transform suffering from a curse to a source of union with God. In John we focus on Jesus’ work. The work the Father gave him was to form those twelve men to be his disciples so that they would take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and make his message endure through the ages. God wants us today to invest our lives in relationships in order to become a vessel of God’s love and grace for the world. Today’s Gospel carries a powerful lesson for us: like Jesus our real work, the work the Father has given us, is rooted in relationship and discipleship.