I Am with You Always
May 24, 2020
The Ascension of Our Lord
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, help me to accept your invitation to climb the mountain; enable me to rise above my limitations, rely on your power, and share the gift of your redemption. Lord, I humbly ask for this grace: Help me to turn to you and trust in you.
1. “The Disciples Went to Galilee”: Jerusalem was a big city—noisy, crowded, and a bit overwhelming. The apostles had just experienced the horror of Jesus’s Crucifixion, as well as their own abandonment of him. We could reasonably consider them post-traumatic. In this low point, Jesus entered and extended an invitation to them to meet him in Galilee. A two- to three-day journey by foot from Jerusalem, Galilee is peaceful and beautiful, and at that time of year, in full bloom. Perhaps Jesus was inviting his disciples to breathe, take in the beauty, unplug. Like the apostles, we can be personally depleted by our circumstances. It may take some effort on our part (perhaps not three days of walking!); it may be a form of self-mastery to go and meet Jesus. But when we do go to him, in Adoration, for example, we find him, with his love and peace, ready to restore us.
2. “They Worshiped, but They Doubted”: Another translation says, “And seeing him they adored; but some doubted.” We sometimes adore—and sometimes we doubt. We may feel a sense of holy envy that the disciples were able to see Jesus. Although they accompanied Jesus, they were sometimes confused, self-centered, and weak, and did not fully realize the power and love of Jesus, even though he was right before their eyes. We can be so painfully similar to them, and so we pray that we may see—that we may recognize his power, and humbly unite our weakness to his strength.
3. “Go Out and Tell All the Nations …I Am with You Always”: What a pivotal moment; the apostles were given their great commission! Jesus did not spend three years teaching and forming them to be spiritually “fat and happy.” No, he formed them to be his priests, his other selves, to share the Good News of his redeeming love with the entire world—and they did!! How were they so effective? How they did it was so simple and clear that we might easily miss it: they prayed. They returned to Jerusalem, joined with Our Lady, and they prayed. We are called to follow their humble, yet powerful, example. We can feel too busy to pray, or only take time from our meetings and commitments because we “have to pray.” When we allow Jesus to fill us and be our strength, we can be true other Christs, true apostles, and true heralds of his Kingdom.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I try to imagine what happened after the apostles lost sight of you. While angels were addressing them on earth, countless angels and redeemed souls, including Adam and Eve, Moses, the Prophets, John the Baptist, Joseph, and myriad others welcomed you as you ascended to the Father. No earthly experience can compare to the thunderous joy of that moment; wildly cheering fans in a stadium cannot compare to such an expression of all-encompassing happiness! Allow me to join that cacophony of praise for you one day in paradise.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will slip into a church or chapel and spend a few moments alone with you, with a heart full of gratitude for your desire to accompany me, and with hopeful anticipation of meeting you face to face.
For Further Reflection: I will reflect on today’s psalm, Psalm 47, particularly on these words: “…shout to God with cries of gladness, for the LORD, the Most High, the awesome, is the great king over all the earth…”