Being Lifted Up with Christ by Serving with Christ

Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More

by Angela M Jendro

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Ascension of the Lord

Read the Gospel of Mark 16:15-20

Meditation Reflection:

Today as a Church we remember Christ’s Ascension into Heaven when He returned to His rightful glory.  Jesus our king had left the comfort and majesty of His throne, to battle sin and death for His subjects, which could only be accomplished as one of us.  He entered the war zone at the Incarnation. The Son of God Who is infinite in His divinity accepted the burden of the limitations our human nature.  In addition, as if human kingship would not already be a far cry from His experience as Divine king, He chose instead the most difficult circumstances in human society – poverty and social rejection.  Our king is someone Who walks among His people, rolls up His sleeves and works side by side with us in our most difficult struggles. 

He does not stand aloof laughing at our weakness.  Rather He empowers us to battle with Him and reign with Him as children of God. After His Ascension Jesus sent His Spirit Who dwells in the souls of all the baptized and enables them to share in the work of Christ and become His Mystical Body. Jesus also modelled the way.  His glory began with His self-emptying (the fancy theological word for it is kenosis) and so our final glory requires this same emptying of self, service of others, and humble obedience to the Father’s will. St. Paul describes it beautifully in his letter to the Philippians:

“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. Philippians 2:1-4 NAB

Jesus took on the hardest and lowest jobs.  He was born in a barn, lived as a refugee in Egypt for the first years of His life, grew up with manual labor as His “career”, and walked wherever He travelled.  During the three years of His public ministry He faced rejection by His own townspeople who tried to throw Him off a cliff, the Pharisees and Sadducees plotted against Him even though He is the Word of God they supposedly protected, His own friends betrayed Him, and He died with an unjust conviction under false claims in the most humiliating and torturous way the Romans had contrived – naked on a Cross.  The night before His death, He prepared His apostles to reign in His stead by washing their feet – the most disgusting task which would traditionally be assigned to whomever was lowest on the totem pole – of the servants the slaves and of the slaves the foreign slaves.

So, who wants to reign with Christ? Doesn’t this sound fun?! If Christ’s life ended on the Cross, then NO.  Absolutely not!  But it didn’t end on the Cross.  Because He humbled Himself, the Father exalted Him above every name and at His Name, every knee should bend.  Jesus rose from the dead and 40 days later He ascended to unmatched glory in Heaven.  He assures us that if we follow Him, the way will be hard, but it will culminate in unending joy. 

“The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23: 11-12 NAB

Christian disciples share in the mystery of Jesus’ Royal Poverty.  Rather than looking side to side to see what everyone else is doing, we look up and down – up to Christ in glory and to His will, and down to where we might humbly serve.  If we keep our glance up and down, down and up, we will discover harmony within the tension of humble service and risen glory – the royal poverty that can only be found by abiding in the One who accomplished it – Jesus Christ.

So, let us wait in eager anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (next Sunday).  He empowers us to serve and to reign, to obey and to be glorified, and most importantly to love as Christ loved us.

Consider:

  • Meditate on how Christ became your Brother.  What does it mean to be a brother? What does it mean to be His brother or sister in return?
  • Ask Christ how you might empty yourself more.  What holds you back from following Him?  What task feels too low to take up, or what feels too good to give up? 
  • Humbling ourselves is a tremendous risk.  We live in a competitive culture of self-assertion.  If we don’t exalt ourselves, we worry we will be walked all over.  Pray for the grace to step out in faith, trusting that if we humble ourselves, God will take care of the exalting. 
  • How much do you look side to side – comparing yourself to others or the standards of the world?  How might you look up and down more in those situations?

Practical Application:

  • Each day this week acknowledge someone’s humble, loving service and thank them.
  • Each day look up in prayer, then down for an opportunity to serve.

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro

Additional Reading Recommendations:

Revised Standard Version Holy Bible (I have this one myself and is a favorite gift for First Communion or Confirmation)

Abandonment to Divine Providence

I Thirst: 40 Days With Mother Teresa

Remade For Happiness by Bl. Fulton Sheen

Caryll Houselander: Essential Writings (Modern Spiritual Masters)

Consecration to St. Joseph by Fr. Donald Calloway

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