Today we reflect on Jesus’ ascension into heaven, his making a path for us to the Father. Something, in particular, I would like to focus on today are Jesus final word to his disciples;
“Thus it is written, that the Christ is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
How do Christ’s words, these words that he spoke to his disciples, reach us today?
Perhaps it was easy for Jesus’ disciples to be witnesses being that they encountered all these things firsthand, but we also are called to be witnesses to these things.
What do ‘these things’ look like in our lives? I don’t think it is too much of a stretch for us. Our lives are filled with suffering here on earth. As we lose our loved ones and face the grief of loss, as we hear about tragedies (we can think of the forest fires in Ft. McMurray that have left so many with nothing), or the loss of life due to war or injustice, or even others struggling with addictions to drugs and alcohol. There are maybe even others suffering in ways that are not visible to us. These are only a few examples. Whether it is near to us or far away, death is very real to us, whether it be internal or external. But when we unite our death and suffering with Christ’s we also know that there is always resurrection; that there is always hope. We know that after death there is always life!
It is not always easy, usually impossible, for us to see this in the moment, but afterwards God’s healing hand is revealed. As, in the Gospel passage today, Jesus opened his disciples’ minds to understand the scriptures, so he reveals to us in our own time an understanding of His work in our lives through the suffering we face.
For it is by these sufferings and resurrections that we are, in time, being lifted closer to God as we also await that day when Christ will draw us to himself for eternity, where we will live with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit for all eternity.
And this is what we are witnesses to! Christ’s words are not only for his disciples. He speaks them to us, personally, “You are witnesses of these things.”
So let us not fail to be witnesses, to share with others in word and in deed, these ways that we are experiencing the victory of Christ in our own lives. That we may proclaim with great joy our life in Christ and the anticipation of our eternal home, as the early disciples did upon returning to Jerusalem after Christ’s ascension.