Spiritual Reading : Week starting on May 22th, 2017
Week of 22nd May 2017 (reference: Readings of Sunday 28th May)
Ascension of our Lord - Readings: Acts1,1-11; Psalms 46; Eph 1,17-23; Mt 28,16-20
We do not need wait for the arrival of the Lord to be with Him, because He is within each of us.
In the solemnity of our Lord’s Ascension, we see that Jesus separates again from his apostles and disciples; but this parting takes place in an environment very different from the departure of the Last Supper and the subsequent death of Jesus. On that occasion, the Apostles and disciples were completely bewildered ("they lost their way"); they were disappointed and with an enormous void; they were the first Christians to feel the well-known "dark nights". The parting of the Ascension, however, is full of hope: He ascends into heaven after spending forty days with his Apostles as the Risen One. There was not any more fear, emptiness, disappointment, because Christ restored the trust and the covenant with them, through the resurrection.
The only thing needed was to fill a sole void that would settle the creation of the Church, a community that went much further than Jerusalem and much larger than the Jewish community: a Church to be announced all over the world. This void of strength and wisdom will be filled by the Holy Spirit, which came in the form of fire, on Pentecost, announced and brought by Jesus and by the Father.
John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus; had baptized the Apostles with water, but now they are baptized by the Holy Spirit: their holiness would be sealed forever; and they will be entitled to baptize everyone in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: Jews, Greeks, heathen, gentiles, Romans, all of us.
The scene of contemplating the Lord’s Ascension is very interesting. The text of the Acts (1, 10-11) reads: "the Apostles were still staring into as He went, when suddenly two men in white were standing beside them, and they said: 'Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky? "Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you have seen him go to heaven". It is as if the Lord wanted to say: this is right, contemplation is important, but you now have to carry the legacy of the death and resurrection to all those who are thirsty of meaning for their lives.
This reminds me of Saint Vincent de Paul. We all know his role as leader, maker of works, and organizer of charity; but there is an aspect of Saint Vincent that we sometimes forget: he spent hours in prayer (in asceticism); but his prayer had an interesting feature: once he understood, through prayer, the will of God, he went out to perform it. We can say that Saint Vincent practiced a ‘practical asceticism’.
It is worth thinking a little about the meaning of our life, we who received the gift of the Vincentian vocation; to understand that the baptism we had was more than the baptism of John; being baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost IS what makes the difference. We no longer need to wait for the coming of the Lord to be with Him, because He is within each of us.
The next step would be to experience the practical asceticism. Get on our knees before the Holy Sacrament and seek to understand what the Holy Spirit wants us to do. To kneel down also before the Poor we help (who is God par excellence) and hear from him what the very Holy Spirit wants us to change in our life; or how he wants us to evangelize to the ends of the earth. Seeking in the tabernacle of the altar and in the tabernacle of the assisted person’s home the reason of our life, makes us true Apostles of Christ, in spirit and in action, in truth and in life.