Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Ascension - MAFA
Ascension Day is one of the principal feasts of the Christian Calendar. Yet, while this means it is to be ranked alongside Christmas, Easter  and and Pentecost, it has rarely been accorded the same sort of importance in the life of the Church or the practice of individual Christians. Perhaps this is in part because the event it commemorates -- the ascension of the risen Jesus -- is recorded by only one evangelist, Luke (though that is also true of the Epiphany). Perhaps it is because over the centuries its precise location in the Christian year has been subject to local variation. But mainly, I think, it is because the theological significance of the event it celebrates is very hard to separate from the Easter Resurrection and the coming of Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

One way of identifying this significance, however, is to note the special way in which the brief period between Ascension Day and Pentecost unites us, and Christians of every age, with the first disciples. Peter, John, Andrew and so on, saw Jesus in the flesh. They walked and talked with him, watched and listened to him over the years of his ministry. It ended in apparent failure of course, but then, as physical witnesses of the Risen Christ, they were granted a second opportunity to be in the privileged company of the Son of God.

In the pursuit of our discipleship we do not have these advantages. We must live in faith in a way that those few Galileeans did not have to do. Ascension marks the point at which Jesus left them to complete their discipleship, by finding a faith just like ours. His departure "from their sight"  meant that  for a time they had to stand firm in knowledge of the Resurrection, without his unique presence to sustain them. In this way, his ascension required them to prepare themselves for what the rest of us rely on -- a Holy Spirit that draws us into the eternal life of the Father whom we do not see and the Son whom we never met.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Mark 16:9-20 ~~written by Luke???

  3. Thanks for this comment. It is quite widely accepted that Mark 16 9-20 is an addition to the original Gospel, and verse 19 does not necessarily, or even obviously, refer to a specific event.

  4. The Mark 16:19 that was specifically quoted by Irenaeus c. 184, in Against Heresies Book 3? And which was incorporated into Tatian's Diatessaron, c. 172? And which is in every undamaged Greek manuscript of Mark except those two from the 300's, one of which has a prolonged blank space after 16:8 and the other of which has a cancel-sheet there? /That/ Mark 16:19?

    It is quite widely accepted, by people who have tested Metzger's description of the evidence pertaining to Mark 16:9-20, that his descriptions leave something to be desired.