PLEASE NOTE: In some dioceses, the Ascension is celebrated on the Thursday that is the fortieth day of Eastertide instead of being celebrated on the Seventh Sunday of Easter. This year’s Ascension reflection is found HERE.
The Seventh Sunday of Easter [B]
Acts 1:15-17,20,20-26 + 1 John 4:11-16 + John 17:11b-19
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.”
Your life as a Christian resembles the life of each of the apostles, whom we’ve been hearing a lot about during the past six weeks of the Easter season. Like the apostles, we know that we are blessed as Christians to share in the life of Jesus. We know that we are blessed to have been redeemed by Christ, and to have the chance to enter Heaven by means of our faith in Jesus dying on the Cross.
Like the apostles on the day of the Ascension, though, we find ourselves in life not always sure what to do next. Whether in regard to a relationship with another person, a job situation, schooling, our prayer life, or our moral life, we’re often left wondering. These conundrums in life force us to turn to God for help, and—what’s even more difficult at times—they force us sometimes to wait for God’s answer.
“Waiting”. That’s the word that describes us during these days that stretch between the feast of the Ascension and the feast of Pentecost, which the Church will celebrate next Sunday. Following Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, the apostles weren’t exactly sure what to do, even though they’d been told by Jesus to go out and preach the Gospel to all the nations. Maybe the apostles wanted more of a blueprint than Jesus had provided. Like most of us, they probably wanted an exact road map telling them: “James, you go to this town and preach to these people. Peter, you go to this country and preach to this tribe.”
Your life as a Christian resembles the life of each of the apostles as they wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They waited. And they waited. For nine days they waited in the Upper Room where Jesus had instituted the Holy Eucharist. Finally, on the tenth day, God the Father and God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit down from Heaven to fill the apostles’ hearts, minds, and souls. The Holy Spirit didn’t provide them with an exact blueprint for building the Church. But His gifts did help them speak when it was necessary, listen when it was necessary, and pray when it was necessary.
These three things—acting, listening, and praying—must be equally balanced in our lives, and all of them must be done for God. If this seems a tall order, we ought to remember that God has given us a blueprint of how to follow Jesus. In fact, this blueprint has a name. Her name is Mary.
Your life as a Christian resembles the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was and is the first and best disciple of Christ. Mary was with the apostles during those ten days following the Ascension of Jesus. She who had been full of grace—by the power of the Holy Spirit—from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception was not necessarily leading the apostles in prayer, but nevertheless she was guiding them, as only a mother can do.
Just as Jesus had entrusted Saint John to the care of His Mother Mary atop Calvary, all the others apostles in turn were entrusted to her maternal care at Jesus’ Ascension. There was Mary in the Upper Room where her Son had celebrated the Last Supper, the first Eucharist with them. By her words, by her silence, by the example of her life, and by her intercession, she cared for the apostles as their mother in Christ. Here was the woman who had given birth to their Lord. Here was the woman who had been faithful to their Lord even on the Cross, as most of them had not.
If we turn our minds back to the Cross, we recall how greatly our Lord Jesus was faithful to His mother. The occasion of His first public miracle was at the wedding at Cana. Jesus said, “my hour has not yet come”, but Mary told Jesus that there was someone in need, and Jesus listened to her.
Mary’s will is always God’s will. With a mother’s love she bore the weight of seeing her only son die on the Cross. Yet she knew that His death would bring about the salvation of mankind. Above all, it is at the Cross that we see Mary’s fervent intercession and spirit of waiting for God providentially to bring great good out of great evil.
Ascension by Francisco Camilo (1610-1671)