(ASCENSION OF THE LORD)
Scripture Reading: John 14:18
Forty days ago we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus from the grave; today the Church celebrates the Ascension of the Lord. Jesus ascends to heaven so that He can send the Holy Spirit to His followers. As such, John 16:7 says “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” “I will not leave you comfortless”. Christ calls His disciples children, beloved children, John 13:33; and, now that He is about to be removed from them by death, He assures them that they shall not be left fatherless, or without a teacher; for in a little time He shall come again, (rise from the dead), and, after His ascension, they shall be made partakers of that Spirit, their Comforter, Advocate, Teacher, and Guide forever.
Ascension invites us to prepare for Pentecost, “I will come to you” as our scripture reading says—this coming, as is shown by the whole context, is the spiritual presence in the person of the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete). In preparing for Pentecost (the coming for Holy Spirit) the Bible exposes in Acts 1:14 that, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” In the same vein the Daily Strength Devotional Family like the Apostles of old in union with Mary the Mother of Jesus will embark on a nine-day Pentecost fasting and prayer (Novena to the Holy Spirit), starting tomorrow 6th of May, to 14th of May as a necessary spiritual preparation for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit as it was in the first Pentecost in Acts 2. It is for everybody irrespective of how long you have been in the Church or how spiritual you have been. Pope Leo XIII said, “We ought to pray and invoke the Holy Spirit for each one of us greatly needs His protection and help.”
Dear friends in Christ, Pentecost should not just be a historical feast to be celebrated as a fact of history, but a reality to be experienced by believers of today in the likeness and characteristics of the first Pentecost in Acts 2. The secret of the success of the first century Christianity even in the face of grave persecution is their openness and docility to the move and power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the essential companion of every Christian and is the guarantee and means by which we persevere to the point of reaching heaven. Brethren we need to eagerly and earnestly desire the mighty rain of the Holy Spirit in our lives and Church as it was in the apostolic era. This is because, though many of us are baptized and confirmed, we have quenched the fire of the Holy Spirit which we received. We have grieved and defiled the temple of the Holy Spirit by our lives of sin and unrepentance. We have closed our hearts to the wonders and moves of the Holy Spirit by our religious rigid legalism also seen in the attitude of the Doctors of the Law to whom Jesus referred as “hypocrites”. As such we need a ‘new Pentecost’ ‘anew outpouring of the Holy Spirit’, ‘a new fall of the fire of the Holy Ghost’ on us and the Church to revitalize, to revive our zeal and commitments, to renew our prayer lives, to restore our spiritual gifts, to re-empower us for the mission of winning souls, to rekindle the fire of charity and love. Let us conclude today’s reflection with the words of St. Bonaventure, “The Spirit comes to the ones who love him, invite him, who eagerly await him.”
- Begin your prayer with this song: “Come Holy Spirit I need You. Come Precious Spirit Divine. Come in Your fullness and Power. Come in Your own Special way.”
- Father Lord, have mercy on me for my sins and hypocrisy in the name of Jesus.
- Lord Jesus, let your fire and your Blood purge my soul, body and spirit in the name of Jesus.
- Lord Jesus, grant me the strength and all the graces I need to be part of the nine-day fasting/ prayers.
- Holy Spirit, break me down and re-mould me for your use in the name of Jesus.
- A Prayer to the Holy Spirit (by Cardinal Mercier): O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, and console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.
Exercise: Endeavor to reconcile to God. (For Catholics through the Sacrament of Reconciliation)
Memory Verse: Act 1:4-5