Ascension Sunday – May 21, 2023
Last weekend, Deacon Bruno explored the command to love one another and the implications that command has on our everyday encounters with others.
This weekend, we’ll explore how our love for one another is given power and authority by the One who Ascends to the Right Hand of the Father, so that we might be living embodiments of grace to those who need it most.
A photon checks into a hotel, where a bellhop asks, “Where is your suitcase?”
The photon replies, “I didn’t bring any luggage. I’m traveling light.” (rd.com)
(In my physics lab at university, we conducted double slit experiments, in which we discovered that light has two properties: it can act as a particle as well as a wave.)
Jesus has a lot in common with a photon!
Jesus, when he was lifted up on a cross and, on the third day, rose from the dead, used his glorified body to appear to his apostles and disciples personally for forty days! Like a photon particle, Jesus in his flesh and blood existence, showed them that he is indeed alive, that his promise to save us from our sins wasn’t a lie. And that we can approach him in faith to receive the free gift of salvation!
He appeared for 40 days. Why 40? 40 years of wandering in the desert, 40 days of flooding for Noah’s ark, 40 days of temptation in the desert. (40, a time of completeness, a lifetime in the Bible)
After 40 days, Jesus, in his divinity, ascends to heaven, to the abode of God, where he could be present at all times and all places, to everyone in all of creation simultaneously, much like a wave rippling out from the center of a pond in all directions when a stone is thrown into the water. Jesus, most especially, chooses to be present as Lord to those most in need of his consolation, intervention, and love:
- To the homeless person on the street who doesn’t know when his next meal will come.
- To the miner who just lost his job due to cutbacks.
- To the teen being bullied in school because she dresses differently than the rest.
- To the atheist who sees all that’s wrong in the world and concludes that there is no God.
To these and to many others who feel that God has seemingly turned a blind eye to their suffering or to their insecurities, Jesus wants to bring his presence, his love, and his strength to lift them out of their suffering and to experience the gift of new life!
Since he’s no longer physically present on earth, Jesus commissions us, his contemporary disciples, to find solutions to these and other pressing problems that afflict humankind.
Sitting at God’s right hand symbolizes divine power, confidence, and authority given to Christ as both Lord and Messiah. In that special role, Jesus — the Ascended One, exercises supreme power over all creation in the entire universe. All things are under his control and dominion. There’s nothing and no one that doesn’t fall under the authority and the power of Jesus Christ. Such dominion could only be exercised by one who’s no longer bound by space and time. That’s why Jesus had to ascend to Heaven.
The blessing is, because of his elevated state of existence, Jesus can always be with us and can interact with us in exciting and unexpected ways! (much like when an electron absorbs energy that moves it from its ground state to excited level, that enables it to combine with other atoms to form a new kind of molecule!) Even though Jesus no longer appears on a personal basis to his disciples, Jesus is, in fact, far more profoundly and intimately present to each of us in the church because he has taken his seat at the right hand of God
It is from the right hand of God, that Jesus commissions us to exercise his authority, to use his inspirations, to live by his teachings, in bringing the good news to those who’ve only experienced bad news, to bring the light of the Gospel to those who resigned themselves to live in the darkness.
It’s from their heavenly thrones that God the Father and God the Son send us the Holy Spirit, to abide in our hearts and to give us the courage to act in the name of Christ in proclaiming God’s salvation to all the world! That’s called Evangelization!
That’s why we go forth every weekend to glorify God by our lives of service!
We can’t ignore this great commission!
We can’t live as if Jesus did not ascend to the throne of God!
We can’t live as if we’re powerless against the forces of sin and evil in our world!
We can’t live in resignation to the evils that beset us in our world!
We can’t live as if we’re uncertain of our final destination, because Christ has entered the Holy of Holies, the Kingdom of Heaven, as our Eternal High Priest, having shed his Precious Blood and dying on a cross, and then rising in defiance of sin, so as to gain for us, entrance into that Kingdom of Light, Love and Joy by our faith in Him!
As disciples of the Risen and Ascended Lord, may we be ever ready to continue the work of Christ until he comes again in Glory!
Next weekend, we’ll explore the grace given to us by the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth!
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