One of the best ways to enrich your experience at Sunday Mass is to pray the gospel reading personally. A great way of doing this is using the “Lectio Divina”; this is a powerful method which we explain here. The following is the Sunday gospel reading with a reflection that is especially aimed at youth.
We hope that it serves you in your personal prayer and that it serves as a resource that you can share with your apostolate.
Gospel of Solemnity Of The Ascension Of The Lord (Lk 24:46-53)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.
This Gospel surely speaks of our human dynamic. Jesus’ words, his stories, are always born from the situation of those he has before him. Jesus always responds to what those around him are living. His starting point is inevitably: humanity.
[pullquote align=”right”]”It’s easy to make a monk out of the outer man; just desire it. But to make a monk out of the inner man is an arduous battle.” – Hesychius of Sinai[/pullquote]Therefore spirituality can never be disincarnate. If spirituality doesn’t start from that which is most human – if it doesn’t touch our flesh – it’s no better than a phantom and a vague idea incapable of responding to reality.
Our human dynamic becomes spiritual the moment we become the place we find God. In this sense, our humanity has always been spiritual. God has been in contact with our humanity from the moment he created it in Adam, right up to the moment that Jesus assumed this flesh, rendering the union between flesh and spirit – between God and humanity – forever unbreakable.
Contemporary man’s common temptation is to fold in on himself in a meticulous introspection. Inevitably he will come to know the mechanisms of his interior in great detail but never know hope; he will never find a way out of his self-centeredness.
If we look within ourselves without the aid of the loving gaze of another person we risk being crushed under the weight of our failures. If we stare into our own hearts, completely alone, we risk becoming trapped in the space between what we are and the judgment of ourselves.
We need the eyes of another to free us from this cave, to heal us with the tenderness of their gaze. This is the experience of faith that allows our simple human sight to open to hope. The experience of faith is the encounter with the Other that loves, and continues to love, my humanity.
This passage from the Gospel of Luke describes the experience of faith as a great liturgy that accompanies and transforms our lives. It’s no surprise that some texts end with an “amen.”
Life is a liturgy that begins with the proclamation of a word that is revealed to us: thus it is written. No matter how superficial and distracted we may be in the frenetic confusion of our lives, we are the recipients of a message. Someone never ceases to tell us that he has given, and will continue to give, his life for us.
I will never deserve it, but Christ dies so that I may live, so that my live may be without end, eternal. This is mercy: to have the experience of being forgiven while still in my sin. This is the good news for mankind and the heart of our faith: my sin will not carry me to eternal death.
The liturgy of life continues with the epiklesis, a difficult word that means the invocation of the Holy Spirit, an invocation we hear every time we celebrate the Eucharist: and now, Father, send your Holy Spirit… You see, the Father continues to send us his Spirit – his strength, his light – so that the experience of having been forgiven can remain alive in us: And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.
The remembrance of this experience is the condition of testimony: you who have experienced being loved gratuitously, share this experience with the others. We have no other testimony than this: the fact of having been justified when we deserved to be condemned. We must speak in the plural: Jesus makes us witnesses. From the very beginning, the Church is in the plural, not as individual experiences but as a community that experiences forgiveness together and, as a community, is sent out to announce the experience of mercy with this life in community. The witness of faith is shared, never individual, from the very start.
This liturgy of life ends and does not end, it finishes but remains open: the Lord blesses this action and, in the Gospel of Luke, the disciples respond and welcome this blessing by prostrating themselves before Jesus. But at the same time they return to Jerusalem and are always in the Temple, that is, they enter into a permanent praise of the Lord. For he who has experienced forgiveness in his own life, life must become a everlasting praise. And it is precisely this praise, this life as praise, that becomes a testimony. Amen, therefore. Let our lives be such.
For Personal Reflection:
– What specific aspects of your life is God speaking to you about today?
– In what ways am I a witness of the Good News of the Gospel?