St. Mark takes us to the core meaning of Jesus’ ascension: “The Lord Jesus ... was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God” (Mk 16:19).
At the conclusion of his appearances to his disciples after his resurrection, Jesus was seen to ascend. It was not into the heavens in the sense of the sky that Jesus went; his going up symbolized his entry into the heavens in the sense of God’s presence.
And there he is now, as much God as the Father is God, and as human as you and I. And there, with the Father and the Spirit, he reigns over the entire creation.
“God reigns over the nations,” as the psalmist sings, through his Son, Jesus of Nazareth. That’s what we’re celebrating today.
But has the reality of “Jesus is Lord” taken hold of our minds and hearts? Or is it just an element in our belief system, an incomprehensible ― and sometimes seemingly implausible ― statement with little effect on our lives?
For me, the answer is “both.”
So I pray along with St. Paul: “May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ ... give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation. ... May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know ... what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens” (Eph 1:17-20).
A troubled young woman’s life could begin to straighten out if she got her eyes open to the goodness and gifts that God has built into her. A marriage could be saved if a husband got his eyes open to his wife’s great worth and inner beauty. Your life and mine could be transformed by our getting our eyes open to the presence and humility and power of Jesus’ reign.
The novena prayer form is based on Mary’s and the disciples’ prayer for nine days from Jesus’ ascension to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost (“novena” comes from the Latin for the number nine).
Let’s begin a novena for each other today (actually only seven days), asking God to send his Spirit to open the eyes of our hearts to his lordship over all.
Reflection Question: Will you pray St. Paul’s prayer, for yourself and others?