Thursday, 21 October 2021

Celebrating Feast of the Ascension

CHRISTIANS believe that about 2,000 years ago God entered the human race by becoming a member of it.

He did not stop being God but took on our human nature and was born in a stable in Bethlehem.

They named him Jesus. He grew up in Nazareth, where he probably worked as a carpenter.

However, when he was about 30 years of age he gave up his job and for a period of about three-and-a-half years, he went round the country healing people who were sick, forgiving people who were sinners and inviting everybody to lead a way of life which would lead them into the Kingdom of Heaven.

For that he was crucified on Good Friday, a terrible passion and death, offering himself as a sort of sponge soaking up our sins, or like a drain through which all evil must be poured away.

But then he was raised from the dead; not brought back to life, resuscitated, but taken through death into new life, resurrected.

During the six weeks following Easter Sunday he appeared to his followers a number of times, promising to send them the Holy Spirit, but on the40th day after his resurrection at a place called Bethany, he blessed the apostles, his closest followers, and was raised up, disappearing from their sight in the event which we call the Ascension into Heaven, a feast day which we will celebrate this year on Thursday (May 10).

Ten days later the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, filling them with joy and enthusiasm, for the Holy Spirit had come to them, not instead of Jesus but to secure the presence of the Risen Jesus in their lives. The Church was born that day.

Jesus teaches how to live and how to die: to live in a spiritual and moral conversion by loving God and loving our neighbours; to die by entrusting ourselves to his providence.

This mortal frame, this flesh and blood, this ticking heart and buzzing brain must be changed, transformed to fit us for heaven, to fit us for God.

St John, who was the youngest of the apostles and witnessed the crucifixion and the resurrection, wrote in his old age: “We are already the children of God, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed. What we do know is that when it is revealed, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he really is.”

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