Posted by: Bishop Mike Wagner
It is interesting when you compare the events of Christmas and Ascension Day, both two thousand years ago and today.
The birth of Christ was heralded by a heavenly host singing in the sky, a star in the heavens and even recorded in the gospels in great detail. So it is today with Christmas celebrations, gatherings, and gifts. Ascension Day was quite a low key affair by comparison. A few disciples gathered together in an unnamed secluded place watching Him ascend into the clouds. Today this event is generally forgotten by Christians, yet it was a great triumphant entry by Christ into heaven, ‘to sit at the right hand of God’ (cf. Mark 16: 19). Even more, so is the message of the angels overlooked ‘…This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’
(Acts 1: 11).
This event was possible because Christ brought the ultimate sacrifice of His life upon the cross. However, He also left behind a handful of followers with whom He had lived the last three years. In them, He fostered a fellowship that would carry on and grow so that when He returned there would be a prepared people to return to, those who would be waiting for Him.
At that time most expected Him to return very shortly, many even within their lifetime, yet some two thousand years later He still has not returned. Let us not get caught up in the ‘when’ of His return but rather focus on the simple instruction He left to Peter ‘…You follow Me.’
(John 21: 22). Just as Peter and the disciples had followed Christ when He was on earth they were to follow His teaching until His return. We count ourselves to those who wait for His coming when we take this command upon ourselves.
The essence of this following and endurance was so clearly laid out by our Chief Apostle in these statements:
- fight against sin until the end-the final victory will be given by Jesus
- cause the ‘old Adam’ to die by undoing ideas and aspects of their personality that displease God, in order to conform to the example of Jesus
- persevere in prayer, put the preaching of the apostolate into practice, partake worthily of Holy Communion and conduct themselves as a true member of the body of Christ.
Peter held fast to the instruction of Christ for his whole life, may we do likewise.