From the Deacon’s Desk | May 29, 2022 | The Ascension of the Lord
“This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”
~ Acts 1:11
We have all had situations where we have needed to say “Goodbye” to someone or a group of people we have formed a strong relationship. These likely were family, but they could also be classmates, co-workers, athletic teammates, or close friends. Most of the time, we know we will see them again sometime in the near or distant future. But other times, we know, and they know, that our paths may never cross again. And that can be very sad.
The apostles went through these types of emotions. During the immediate days after the crucifixion, they were troubled and fearful after seeing Jesus put to death so violently that they could make no sense of the situation. However, after He appeared to them three days later and continued to appear many other times before His Ascension, they became joyful and confident. Their parting was not the end but a beginning! And, as the last two verses of this Sunday’s Gospel describe, “then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.”
It might be hard to imagine how they were able to carry on without Jesus, their fearless leader, and best friend! But the thing is, Jesus didn’t abandon them. Our first reading from Acts clarifies, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The Apostles took Jesus’ words to heart, and we should do the same. In a 2013 homily, Pope Francis said: “The Ascension does not point to Jesus’ absence, but tells us that He is alive in our midst in a new way. He is no longer in a specific place in the world as He was before the Ascension. He is now in the lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each one of us.” As the two men clothed in white reminded the apostles, Jesus will return. How good is it to know that Christ is not distant but fully present to us in a new way?
We are blessed with some incredible opportunities to experience Christ’s unfaltering presence through the workings of the Holy Spirit and the sacraments over the next several weeks. Our parish Eucharistic Festival, celebrating 25 years of Eucharistic Adoration at OLPH, began with a Pentecost Novena this past Friday, May 27, and culminates at our parish picnic next Sunday, June 5. As the Novena continues, we will gather each evening at 7 pm in the Church during this coming week and pray for about 45 minutes in Adoration. Each night, we will implore a particular title for the Holy Spirit, reflecting upon a Scripture reading around that theme while ending with praise through music and silent prayer. We are offering a Family Pentecost Celebration next Saturday morning, June 4, at 10 am for our families with kids ages 3 through 11 (get ready to fly a kite!) Then, later that day, our extended Pentecost Vigil will begin at 7 pm. The Vigil will provide a rich celebration of the Mass, with extended readings that help us meditate upon the works of the Holy Spirit and with time for Adoration and praise after Communion. The evening will conclude with time for fellowship, drinks, and desserts. The celebration continues next Sunday, June 5; after our 5 pm evening Mass, our parish picnic will be held outdoors behind the parish office. We hope you can join us for all of these blessed events.
Check out these celebrations at https://olphparish.org/exalt and visit https://olphparish.org/life-in-the-spirit to learn more about our upcoming Life in the Spirit Seminar and all the many ways we continue; in prayer together, guided by the Holy Spirit!