Rising Above So We Can

( A commentary on Mark 16: 15-20)

Ascension Painting by Danny Hahlbohm
Daily Reflection – 5/13/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (Mark 16: 15-20)

Reflection

Here it is. The Gospel that we hunger to hear.  After his death, Jesus is taken up into heaven and sits at God’s right hand.  This great ascension is Jesus’ final victory, when he leaves behind all of the pain and imperfections of this life and enters into glory.

The good news for you and me is that just as Jesus had a great ascension, one is promised to us.  For we believe that we who are faithful to Christ after our death will ascend into the embrace of a loving God to be with Christ forever.  So, the good news of the great ascension is that our life is moving upward, that despite all the pains and troubles of life, we are not ultimately descending, but ascending, that you and I are bound for glory.

Our faith also teaches us the great ascension also feeds the small ascensions of our lives.

Those are the movements away from limitation and pain, small steps which we take towards glory.  These small ascensions occur every time that you and I rise above a want or an expectation.  We want a lot of things.  A good deal of our energy and frustration in life is involved in trying to gain what we want. We often confuse the things that we want with the things that we need.  But we can in fact survive without them.  When we realize that we can, it is a small ascension.

When we realize that we can live with less, that we can live even though we do not have complete financial security, then we are not taking a step backwards; we are taking a step forward.

When we realize that not all people will like us and yet know that we still have reason to live and rejoice, that is not moving downward sbut upwards, upwards to realistic living. 

When we realize that even though we are sick and we have to deal with pain and medical procedures, there are still people who love us and there are still more than enough reasons to live, that is not delusion; that is a small ascension, a step towards glory.

Some expectations that can at times enslave us.  We expect that everybody in our family is going to understand us.  We expect that people will deal fairly with us.  We expect that the people we love will stay with us.  But when we realize that there is nobody in our family that will completely meet our expectations, but that we still can love them; when we realize that people will hurt and betray us, but that we can still forgive them; when we realize that the people we love do at times leave us, because they need to relocate, or because of divorce, or because of death, but that leaving does not mean that our life is over; each time we realize any of these things we have undergone a small ascension—leaving behind the expectations that enslave us, taking a step towards the God who embraces us. 

We cannot ascend above our wants and expectations simply by choosing to do so.  Like the great ascension that we celebrate today, ultimately the upward movement is because of God’s power and God’s strength, not our own.  But we can pray for such ascensions, and we can open our hearts and minds to them.

We are people who know that after our death, we have been promised a great ascension.  We should pray that God will grant us smaller ascensions today.  We should ask our Lord to lift us up above our wants and expectations, and draw us a step closer to his presence at the right hand of God.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, through the gift of your Holy Spirit, you fill us with an indomitable spirit of praise and joy which no earthly trial can subdue. Fill me with your resurrection joy and help me to live a life of praise and thanksgiving for your glory. May I witness to those around me the joy of the Gospel and the reality of your victory over the grave and gift of everlasting life.”

Daily Note

The great ascension is Jesus’ final victory, when he leaves behind all of the pain and imperfections of this life and enters into glory.

The good news for you and me is that just as Jesus had a great ascension, one is promised to us.  For we believe that we who are faithful to Christ after our death will ascend into the embrace of a loving God to be with Christ forever.  So, the good news of the great ascension is that our life is moving upward, that despite all the pains and troubles of life, we are not ultimately descending, but ascending, that you and I are bound for glory.

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