Shikrot Mpwi – Synopsis of the Ascension of the Lord with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord: Year B – May 13, 2021.

Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Responsorial Psalm Ps 47:2-3,6-7,8-9; Ephesians 1:17-23, 22-23 & Gospel Mark 11:15-20.

Theme: Ascension: The Exceptional Goodbye

“Goodbye’s the saddest word I’ll ever hear. Goodbye’s the last time I will hold you near. Someday you’ll say that word and I will cry. It’ll break my heart to hear you say goodbye” – Celine Dion

Sunday Synopsis

The first reading narrates how Jesus ascended into heaven after empowering his disciples to preach the good news. In the second reading, St. Paul implores us to lead a life worthy of our vocation by  building up the body of Christ through the unity of the spirit. In the gospel, St. Mark gives us his version of the Great Commission with the assurance of Jesus that signs and wonders would be associated with believers. Ascension Thursday invites us to lift others up even as we look towards heaven where every good gift comes from.

Introduction

The opening statement above from the lyrics of the timeless “Goodbye’s (the Saddest Word)” by the queen of R and B, Celine Dion brings to the fore the power of goodbye. “Good-Byes” are often associated with sadness, confusion, uncertainty and sometimes excitement. Titled “Ascension: The Exceptional Goodbye,” this reflection highlights the main points of the readings.

Background and Summary of the Readings

The first reading (Acts 1:1-11) narrates how Jesus ascended into heaven after empowering his disciples to preach the good news “not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.”

In the second reading (Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13), St. Paul implores us to lead a life worthy of our vocation. He invites the faithful to build up the body of Christ through unity in faith and in knowledge of the Son of God until we become perfect in Christ Jesus.

In the gospel (Mark 16:15-20), St. Mark gives us his version of the Great Commission with the assurance that signs and wonders would be associated with believers. He tells how the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven after he had spoken to the Apostles.

Good-bye Scenarios

1. A child leaves home for school: I recall leaving home at the age of 12 for the Minor Seminary in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State. It was an emotional moment because that was the first time I was going to be away from my friends and family for six years. Even the promise of periodic holidays could not stop the tears from flowing. The fact that I was going to miss home food and meet seniors who might use the whip when necessary did not also help matters. Today, all that is history.

2. Call to the Priestly or Religious life: No one who puts the plough on the ground and looks back is worthy of the kingdom (Lk 9:62). However, for many of us who took to the priestly or religious life, the decision to say goodbye to friends and family was an uphill task. At some point, those who could not endure had to back out.

3. A young man or woman separates from his or her own family to settle down: At the instance of the scripture, marriage makes people separate from their families to start a new life (Cf.Eph 5:31). Often, it is not easy for a young woman to say goodbye to her biological family which nursed, suckled and educated her. The tears of wedding nights tell the story more.

4. A breadwinner goes in search of greener pastures: Call it brain drain or search for greener pastures, people have had to say goodbye to their spouses and kids for the sake of more money, professionalism or both. Such goodbyes especially for those who would have to travel abroad, go with intense outbursts as relations are often unsure of the outcome.

Nollywood has helped us to appreciate the power of goodbye. This because, in a typical Nigerian movie, Osuofia will gather his relations and tell them he will leave for the city or abroad. Osuofia in London is a case in point. These scenarios gives us a glimpse of what the Apostles went through when the Lord departed from them physically by ascending to heaven.

Pastoral Lessons

1. Rejoice in the Lord: That Jesus assures that he is going to the father (John 20:16-18) urges us to rejoice exceedingly because we have a place in heaven where there are many mansions” (Cf. Jn 14:2).

2. Depend on the Advocate: Since Jesus disclosed that he would leave his Apaotles an advocate, we are challenged to rely on the counsellor, the spirit of truth which will lead us to the complete truth.

3. Look towards Heaven: Ascension  Thursday invites us to lift up our eyes from the school of life to the school of the after-life were every good gift is.

4. Lift Others Up: In a society where Pull Him/Her Down (PHD) is rife, Christians are urged to help lift others up form the dungeon of lack of dignity to dignified human beings through provisinf for the vulnerable members of society.

5. Be Empathetic: Just as Jesus went up to draw us up to the father, we must seek ways of helping others to grow spiritually, intellectually and materially too.

6. Be Patient: We are charged to bear with the encumbrances of this life as a better life awaits us in the hereafter.

Summary Lines

1. The first reading narrates how Jesus ascended into heaven after empowering his disciples to preach the good news.

2. In the second reading, St. Paul implores us to lead a life worthy of our vocation.

3. He invites the faithful to build up the body of Christ through the unity in faith.

4. In the gospel, St. Mark gives us his version of the Great Commission with the assurance of Jesus that signs and wonders would be associated with believers.

5. He tells how the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven after he had spoken to the Apostles.

Conclusion

Goodbyes may bring temporal sadness and gloom but in the long run, they are for our own good. Jesus’ goodbye was meant for our edification since the Holy Spirit is still with us. Today’s celebration positions us to propagate the faith in word and deed until the Lord returns. Have a great celebration!

 

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