27 May 2006

Are you ready for a revelation?

Ascension Sunday 2006: Acts 1.1-11; Eph 1.17-23; Mark 16.15-20
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Paul’s Hospital, Dallas, TX

Jesus left us on Good Friday, dying on the cross, praying to his Father for us, praying that we might be forgiven in our ignorance. His Father raised him up from the dead three days later, emptying the tomb, and Jesus, newly glorified, newly transfigured, again prayed for us, for our maturity in faith, for our mission as apostles, and for our unity as his body as we witness to the world.

Today, he ascends to the Father, bringing to an end forty days of appearances to his frightened and befuddled disciples, forty days of shoring up their strength, squashing their worrisome doubts, and proving again and again that he is who he says he is: the only Son of God, killed, resurrected, transfigured, and now ascended all for one purpose, all for one reason: so that you, that we, might be saved from the slavery to sin and live forever.

Are you ready for your revelation? Are you ready for your eyes to be opened? Are you ready to hear what the Lord would have of you?

Paul writes to the Ephesians: “Brothers and Sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in the knowledge of him.” This seems a fairly innocuous prayer, something you might expect any priest to mutter over someone seeking a blessing; a small prayer of sending or maybe a prayer for discernment. Hardly. This is a prayer for salvation, a prayer for your eternal life with the Father. Paul is not just muttering a simple prayer here. He is pronouncing the descent of the Holy Spirit on his brothers and sisters, asking God the Father to split the heavens and show Himself to his children so that they might know Him and reveal Him to others.

Notice the order of the prayer: first, they require a spirit of wisdom; then, they require a spirit of revelation; and only then do they receive “knowledge of him.” What is a spirit of wisdom and a spirit of revelation? A spirit of This or That is always a share in, a participation in the thing itself. To be given a Spirit of Wisdom is to be bonded to wisdom, to be given a Spirit of Revelation is to be bonded to revelation. The idea here is that Paul is asking the Father to impart to, to gift the Ephesians with a glimpse of His Divine Nature, a peek, a BIG peek at His Face.

Wisdom is the gift of being able to arrange everything in your life—family, work, recreation, religious duty—everything in you life in light of, according to divine expectations, the will of the Father for you, and according to how the Father is perfecting your human nature in His grace with your cooperation. In other words, to possess a spirit of wisdom is to live aligned with God, seduced by His grace, and obedient to His Word. In this spirit of willful cooperation, full assent, and active participation, He will make Himself known to you, give you a Spirit of Revelation.

If to be given a spirit of this or that is to share in this or that fully, then to be given a Spirit of Revelation is to share in Revelation Himself. The Father has revealed Himself to us in scripture, a closed revelation; in created things, a revelation we continue to struggle to understand in our natural and human sciences; and, finally and uniquely, in His only Son, Jesus Christ. In granting us a Spirit of Revelation, the Father both shows us Who He Is and makes us Show-ers; meaning, in the act of revealing Himself, he makes us revealers as well, witnesses; we become a means of revealing Him, ways of showing others His divine nature. You and I are revelations of God to one another! Incomplete revelations, of course—no person has fully revealed God or can reveal God fully but Christ—so, of course, we’re incomplete revelations but we are uniquely revealing in our particular, perfecting natures.

How else can you do what Jesus has ordered you to do? Go to the whole world, proclaim my gospel to every creature, preach everywhere! How do we do this except as those possessed by the spirits of wisdom and revelation, sharers in the one purpose, the one way, the one truth, and the one life?

To know God is know the hope that belongs to His call to us to be His voices. If He calls us to witness, then our faithful witness cannot fail. Hope is our desire for God and an assurance from Him that we have Him now and that we will have Him forever. Hoping is not confident gambling; hoping is resting, relaxing, trusting in a God Who has never and will never fail us. Hope is just one of the riches of His glory, just one treasure we inherit as His holy ones, as His sons and daughters—it is the habit of doing good knowing that good will be multiplied; it becomes for us the habit of confidently expecting good things to come from our obedience, from our eager willingness to be signs of God’s presence in the world.

Are you ready for your revelation? Are you ready for your eyes to be opened? Are you ready to hear what the Lord would have of you?

Christ ascends to heaven forty days after his resurrection. The work of the Son in the flesh is done on earth and so he returns in the flesh to his Father and prepares to send the Holy Spirit, prepares to set his disciples on fire and give birth to the Church. He leaves them with the admonition to preach his Word universally and then promises to accompany them with wondrous signs, confirming their authenticity and authority as his voice in the world.

Go and proclaim the gospel. This is your charge as well. His ascension to the right hand of the Father marks the moment that you were ordered to an apostleship, given the command to be one who reveals God to the world. So, why are you sitting there looking at the sky? Why are you waiting to do what Christ would have you do? And if you are doing what Christ would have you do, are you ready to work harder, longer, and more sacrificially? Are you ready to be the star of this day’s paschal mystery? Are you ready to receive the power promised by Christ? The power to royally serve, the power to reveal Christ to those who have closed the eyes of their heart, the power to hope unconditionally—without looking to the sky for signs—to hope for his return to us in glory.

Are you ready for a revelation from God? Are you ready to be a revelation of God? If not, get ready: that rushing wind you hear and that distant rumbling you feel, that, brothers and sisters, is the promised coming of the Holy Spirit!—the guaranteed arrival of authority, power, and dominion; the promised breath of wisdom, our Advocate, the very fire of our witness.


  1. Dim Bulb7:47 PM

    Hi, father,
    I enjoyed your comments at THE CAFETERIA IS CLOSED. I don't know much about the liturgical rubrics but, i'm pretty sure I was right on the subject. Your comments make me think I was right. The words "me," and "right," don't often go together where I'm concerned (which maybe means you should rethink you position, hehehe). I've bookmarked your blog, which means i may annoy you again. Bye.

  2. Hi Dim,

    Annoy all you want! I'm a big boy, I can take it...

    Welcome...Fr. Philip, OP