A REFLECTION FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
The phrase, “conditio sine qua non” is one of those linguistic gifts from the Latin language. It means a condition without which another thing or other things cannot happen. Put in another way, and it means an indispensable or necessary condition. For example, we could say that water is a “conditio sine qua non” for fish and other aquatic animals.
Today, we are celebrating the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven, and we could make bold to say that the ascension of the Lord is a “conditio sine qua non” for a whole lot of things which this reflection would unveil for us.
The First Reading today (Acts 1:1-11), confirms the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as his numerous appearances for forty days. Furthermore, the writer (Luke) relates that our Lord instructed his disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they receive the power from on high. The Holy Spirit would further empower them to become his witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
As our Lord was concluding his instructions, the disciples watch as he slips through in the clouds and disappears. What the disciples witnessed was the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to heaven. The ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ leaves us with so many lessons that would potentially feed our spirit as we await the coming of the Holy Spirit in the coming week.
The ascension of our Lord Jesus is a very significant event in the divine plan of redemption. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, which marks the inauguration of our salvation history. Easter brings us to the triumph over sin and death through the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The ascension is indispensable in the furtherance of the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ, which includes the following:
The Opening of the Gates of Heaven
In the Gospel of John (3:13), our Lord says that “ no one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” Here, we come to comprehend that heaven remained shut until Jesus Christ ascended and thus opened the gates for the redeemed to enter. The ascension assures us that we have a place fulfilling the promise our Lord made that he has a place for us in heaven (John 14:2).
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
When our Lord Jesus Christ was telling his disciples about his departure from the earth, they were hurt and felt terrible, that he was going to leave them, but told them that unless he goes, the Holy Spirit will not come (John 16:7). We understand that without the ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit would be a daydream.
The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
The two angels who appeared to address the disciples on the day of ascension made it clear to them that the Lord Jesus Christ, who has ascended to heaven, will return in the same way (Acts 1:11). Here again, we understand that the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ would have not relevance if he did not ascend to heaven.
There is Hope for us
The ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ assures us with the hope of our ascent over the misery our times. We cannot have risen and ascended Lord and still live under the oppressive powers of evil. The ascension inaugurates our liberation, and there is hope for us in our earthly journey and beyond.
As we celebrate the ascension of the Lord, may we keep our hearts and minds open for the Second Advocate, the Holy Spirit who is coming to culminate the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!