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Gospel for Sunday, May 29 Luke 24: 46-53

Ascension C

46“Thus it is written: Christ must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47and in his name conversion and forgiveness of sins will be preached to all people, starting from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of this. 49And I will send upon you what my Father promised; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high”.50Then he led them out towards Bethany and, raising his hands, he blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he separated from them and was taken towards heaven. 52And they, after having worshiped him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were always in the temple praising God.

Luke 24: 46-53

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

Certainly the Risen Jesus was seen as such for a specific period of time, after which he no longer manifested himself in apparitions. The “Ascension” is an image in space-time language to express precisely that from a certain moment Christ was no longer found within the space-time limit of our human perception: he is the Living One outside of space and of time, in the eternity of God, “in heaven” (Lk 24,51).

In the Gospel passage that tells of your ascension to heaven, O Lord, what strikes us most is that the disciples, instead of despairing and crying for the loss of your bodily perception, return to Jerusalem “with great joy” (Lk 24.52).

Of course, there is the joy of a wonderful mission that has been entrusted to them, that of announcing your mercy and your forgiveness for all people (Lk 24.47). To reveal to the world that you are not a judging God, who punishes the wicked and rewards the good, but that you are a loving and tender Father who wants “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2, 4). That you “loved the world so much that you gave your only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). That you are in love with men and that you care for them, and you invite us to cast all our worries on you (1 Peter 5.7).

There is the joy of knowing that you would send your Holy Spirit, your Presence during your absence (Jn 16.7): the Spirit of truth (Jn 14.17; 15.26; 16.13; 1 Jn 4 ,6; 5,6), inner teacher of the disciples, who will not only remind them, O Lord, of your teachings, but will make them understand them, guiding them to the whole truth (Jn 16,13). And your Spirit will even dwell in the hearts of Christians; in John 14:16-17, in a stupendous crescendo, you not only said that He is with (“half”) the believers, but that He is near (“para”) of them, or rather in (“en”) them: they will thus become “Pneumatophores”, “Bearers of the Holy Spirit” (Rm 8,9-11; 1 Cor 3,16). And the whole Church will be a “living Temple of the Spirit” (Pref. VIII per annum).

But above all the Joy of the disciples comes from the awareness that after your Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection the whole world has changed: fear, anguish, sin, illness, death have been destroyed forever, and now it says like the apostle Paul, “we have already been raised with you” (Col 3:1); “God, rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our sins, made us live again with Christ: for by grace you have been saved. He also raised us up with him and made us sit in the heavenly places in Christ, to show in the ages to come the surpassing riches of his grace through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-7).

What consoles us, Lord, is that you are with us always, until the end of time, and your presence is real at our side. Isaiah had prophesied that you would be “Immanuel, that is, God with us” (Is 7.14; Mt 1.23). Now this is realized in your promise: “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Mt 28:20).

And, ascending to heaven, you bless us (Lk 24,50-51). In the Bible there is a true “theology of blessing (berakà)”: in Hebrew, berakà is the “healthy or vital force”, but also the “knee”, a euphemism to indicate the sexual organs. Your blessing is not just a wish, but a living force, it is synonymous with the very life that you give us: to bless is to transmit one’s generative capacity to another, making it fruitful. You do not make a banal ritual gesture for us, but you give us strength, fertility, the ability to create with you a newer and more just world.

Help us, O Lord, to always feel you close to us, even in moments of trial, illness and pain, to know how to recognize you close to us, ready to heal us and free us, to support us and protect us, to illuminate our darkness, transforming us into men of hope. “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). Our hope in you, O Lord, is a real fact, already realized, to the point that Paul speaks of the “hope that awaits you in heaven” (Col 1.5), and invites us to “live… in expectation of the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

To this sad, anguished and often desperate world, help us, O Lord, to bring your joy. And to exhort everyone, with our life and our words, to praise you with jubilation (Lk 24,53): “Shout to the Lord all the earth, shout, rejoice with songs of joy. Sing hymns to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and with the sound of the horn acclaim before the king, the Lord. The sea and all that it contains, the world and its inhabitants, tremble. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains rejoice together before the Lord who comes” (Ps 98.4-9). Because “we have seen your glory, glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14); “we have heard, we have seen with our eyes, we have looked and our hands have touched the Word of life” (1 John 1:1)! Because “if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also give us everything together with him? Who will accuse God’s elect? God justifies. Who will condemn? Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was resurrected, is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us? Who then will separate us from the love of Christ? Perhaps tribulation, anguish, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, the sword?” (Rom 8,31-35).

And let us, oh Lord, drunk with joy, always sing, like Mary, your Mother:

“My soul magnifies the Lord

and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior,

because he looked at the humility of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed.

The Almighty has done great things for me

and Holy is his name:

his mercy from generation to generation

he lies upon those who fear him” (Luke 1:46-55).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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