May 26, 2022
A really good storyteller will never tell a story quite the same way twice. Luke is a great storyteller: Today we hear his two versions of the Ascension of Jesus--one from Luke’s Gospel, the other from his Acts of the Apostles. As you might expect, the two accounts have some differences.
For example, the Gospel’s story of the Ascension takes place on Easter night, while in Acts, it is situated 40 days later. This and other differences remind us that these accounts are not strict history, but rather written to teach a spiritual point.
Luke locates both accounts in Jerusalem, where Jesus has won victory in his death and resurrection. From there the Church will spread to the whole world. The Gospel version evokes the past: We hear Jesus explain how it was prophesied that he would suffer. In Acts, his words point to the future, to the commissioning of his apostles as witnesses through the power of the Holy Spirit they will soon receive.
We’re fortunate to have both versions of this special moment in the life of the Church. We need to remember how the story of Jesus fulfills God’s plan and promises of old. We must also be challenged to witness to Christ, empowered by his Holy Spirit.