Branching-Out

'Hear the Word!' by Deacon Charles Paolino: Solemnity of the Ascension

Posted by Charles Paolino on May 15, 2021 6:15:00 AM

Note: In some dioceses, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is moved from Thursday to replace the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 1:1-11)

This reading describes the episode in which the risen Jesus, who had appeared alive to his apostles on several occasions, finally disappearing. The author reports that “he was lifted up and a cloud took him from their sight.’’ The apostles, as one might expect, were dumbfounded, having never witnessed or even imagined such a thing. Then, the account goes on, two men in white confronted the apostles and asked, “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” The men went on to say that Jesus would return, which is part of our faith. That abrupt question—“Why are you standing there looking at the sky?”—didn’t imply that they should go back to their former trades and wait for Jesus to reappear. On the contrary, it implied that they should get busy spreading the word that Jesus had conquered sin and death, was alive, and was inviting all people to encounter him and carry on his work of healing, generosity, and justice. It’s the same invitation he extends to us.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 47)

This is an exuberant psalm that urges those who believe in God, “clap your hands, shout to God with cries of gladness.” God has given us existence itself, life, the earth and everything in it, and he has given us spirits that will live forever. Do we believe this? No wonder we should clap and shout!

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, spread the Gospel, The Ascension

Hopeful Commissioning

Posted by Sharon Krause on May 14, 2021 6:00:00 AM

In the last chapters of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we read of the last interactions of Jesus with his apostles. We see apostles doubting, being admonished for doubting, worshipping, being commissioned, and being given hopeful promises for the future.

In the midst of coping with their fear of some of their fellow Jews, the 11 apostles had to deal with believing accounts of appearances of the risen Jesus and questioning the meaning of the scriptures and their own faith. When Jesus did appear to them despite the locked doors, they must have been a bit rattled. Grief or relief? Doubt or belief?

Just think about it. The apostles’ beloved friend, teacher, and healer was crucified like a criminal, and then, three days later, was raised from the dead by God the Father, and began appearing to them and others. That was a lot to take in! When they saw Jesus, they worshipped him. Jesus opened their minds to understanding the scriptures. He was always teaching them by challenging them, by his example and by parables. These common fishermen, and even a tax collector, were now being challenged to completely change careers; they were to make disciples everywhere as they taught about Jesus’ commands and the Kingdom of a loving God.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, Jesus' call, The Ascension, The Apostles

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