Something has sparked off one of my favourite images of the Ascension of the Lord … a handing-over of responsibility for the future growth and development of the Church, the Christian Community.

A handing-over is not something achieved haphazardly at the last moment or in a rush. In addition, an effective hand-over is not merely confined to showing the ‘new person’ where the keys and records are. It should never catch those involved by surprise, must always include a personal communication of ethos, purpose, atmosphere, focus and key players. All in all, there must be

GOOD PREPARATION.

A reflection on the above description of a really authentic hand-over should reveal the Lord’s expertise in his transference of responsibility, as well as the detailed efforts in preparing those ‘taking-over’. Nothing was left to chance. God-in-Christ had a detailed plan as well as a clear strategy for implementation.

What follows the hand-over is of paramount importance. This explains why

SUNDAY’S FIRST READING [ACTS 1: 1 – 11] records the famous words (also used in the ENTRANCE ANTIPHON) – … men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus … will come … as you saw him go.

In other words, don’t just stand there, get on with the job. Saint Luke makes it clear that the second part has now begun:

in the first book … I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do, until the day when he was taken up … Take a careful look at the phrases underlined — the first book, now there is a new volume dealing with an entirely different situation, — all that Jesus began, now we have to finish what has been begun, — until the day, the actual hand-over took place at the Ascension.

The founding incumbent has departed but he will come again

– and then we will be called to render an account of our stewardship. Therefore it is no-good standing around, looking up to heaven, hoping for constant divine interventions, and somehow wishing that the Lord will not take too much time in coming again!!

In some real way the fact that here in Southern Africa the celebration of Ascension is transferred from the Thursday to Sunday has real benefits. In this scenario most Sunday-Mass-Goers at the very least are reminded that there is, in fact, something to be celebrated. In addition, the Sunday following is Pentecost when “the promise of the Father” becomes a reality ….. our signing powers become effective!

All peoples, clap your hands. Cry to God with shouts of joy. {see TODAY’S PSALM: 47 or 46} When we read this Psalm it is patently obvious that there is no reflection of any dismay or apprehension … God goes up with shouts of joy.

Am I spinning some sort of fairytale? No way! Take a look at

OUR SECOND READING [EPHESIANS 4: 1 – 13], and hear words from the opening sentence – walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Do not stand around, WALK! Our walking, Paul tells us must become a walk for the work of ministry. for building up the body of Christ. There is no escape for any one of us. The Ascension focusses our attention on the calling to which we have been called, and the challenge to walk, work and build.

Fairytale?! Look at our

GOSPEL EXTRACT [MARK 16: 15 – 20]. Go into the world … and they went forth … everywhere. We only hesitate when we forget that the Lord, through and in his Spirit, works with us and confirms the message.

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