Ascension Thursday- 2020

Written on: May 19, 2020

First Reading: Acts 1: 1-11
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:-17-23
Gospel: Matthew 28: 16-20

Ascension happened.

No fan-fare. No trumpet. No singing, “Glory to God in the Highest.” His disciples gazed upward, dumbfounded.

What’s important aren’t the trappings, or the wrappings of the story, but the message and meaning that are at the core of my belief that Jesus ascended into heaven. The ascension of Jesus affirms that Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of God; that Jesus is one with God: and thus Jesus’ love, compassion and power are not bound by limits of time and space but that his love, compassion and power are available to all, always and forever.

Jesus directed the disciples to a mountain and said that all authority had been given to him and that he entrusted that authority to those who are his disciples. They were told to, “go and make disciples” of every ethnic group and every nation. The words are powerful because it indicates that land of origin, nationality, religious viewpoint- all the things that tend to divide- no longer are meant to divide. Everyone has the right to hear the good news of God’s love and be included in the household of God.

No one standing around watching them that day could have guessed what an astonishing thing happened when they all stopped looking at the sky and started looking at each other instead.  But, in the days and years to come it would become very apparent what happened to them. With nothing but a promise and a prayer those eleven disciples consented to become the church and nothing was ever the same again. They stopped looking up toward heaven, looked at each other instead and got on with the business of being the church.

So what does it mean to get on with the business of the church? Well, Luke tells us they journeyed back to Jerusalem as Jesus told them, and there they waited as Jesus instructed. This was a time of prayer, friendship and discernment before they would be empowered to live out their God given mission.

I think this story has much to teach us about tearing our eyes away from the heavens in order to see and participate in what God is doing in our midst and in order to bring to the world Christ message, God’s dream, of hope for the hopeless, food for the hungry, justice for the oppressed, a voice for the voiceless, and love for those who have been discarded by the world.


Sister Mary Mulligan, GNSH has had a life journey that has taken her to a variety of ministries. Originally missioned: as an elementary school teacher, she also served as a guidance/vocational counselor, an alcohol and drug counselor and as social service coordinator at a senior apartment complex.  She experienced all of these various positions as a good fit. “I grew and thrived, witnessed and experienced the Good Fridays, the Easter Sundays, and now I add the Ascension Thursdays, of our lives.”

Featured image courtesy of Chuttersnap/Unsplash

18 thoughts on “Ascension Thursday- 2020

  1. Barbara Harrington says:

    Great job, Mary! Thanks.

  2. Pat Connolly says:

    Mary, Thanks so much for the beautiful, honest , hopeful and direct reflection. It certainly reminds me of keeping my open and acting.

  3. Mary Karen Kelly GNSH says:

    Good News, indeed, Mary. Thank you.

  4. Sister Joan Elias says:

    Thanks, Mary! A great reminder of how we should our everyday life. It took me back to our Lowell days when we were so young and you were so insightful regarding priesthood. Do you remember? Loved this.

  5. Barbara Schiavoni says:

    Thank you for your insightful reflection Mary. You have brought forward the meaning of Ascension in a way that both comforts and challenges. Now it’s up to us to be Christ for others.

  6. Ceil Cosgrove, gnsh says:

    Thanks. As someone else wrote, I could hear your voice. As ever; sensible, thought provoking and real. Thanks for the gift.

  7. Jean Liston says:

    Thanks for the powerful reminder to look for God in our midst.

  8. susan margaret collins says:

    well stated; the Lord is still among us.

  9. KT Connor says:

    Mary, you made my day, and reminded me again of God in the world. Thanks so much. That’s such an important reminder in this world that can seem so chaotic. And creating a compassionate world is such an ascending mission! You folks are awesome.

  10. Pat McKeon says:


  11. Sr.cathy Bleiler says:

    very powerful but yet real. Thanks, Mary

  12. Diane Bardol says:

    Stop looking up to heaven; look at each other instead! Get on with the business of being church! I love it, Mary. Thanks.

  13. Maria Christi says:

    A GREAT AND POWERFUL REFLECTION, MARY! You are so down to earth covering the main points of the event, that it cause me to respond: “Enough of star gazing, NOW get to the MISSION ASSIGNED”!

  14. greynun says:

    So clear and direct–and so accurate, Mary. So like YOU! Thanks for sharing this powerful reflection for the Feast of the Ascension. You have enriched us all!

  15. Rita Margraff says:

    Wow! No fanfare indeed. Jesus is still with us in those we see each day, in those suffering now from the pandemic everywhere, in the poor, as well as in those we love. A great feast! Let’s keep our eyes here and look around.

  16. Eileen White says:

    I found this reflection so meaningful — thank you for giving us such a powerful way to pray with the Ascension. I especially love your sentence: No one standing around watching them that day could have guessed what an astonishing thing happened when they all stopped looking at the sky and started looking at each other instead. We are indeed the church! We’d best stop sky-gazing . . . .

  17. Eileen Spanier says:

    I could hear your voice as I read your words! Wonder-filled…thank you!

  18. Mary Elizabeth Looby says:

    Love this! Thanks, Mary!

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