Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension

First reading: Acts 1:1–11

In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Second reading: Eph. 1:17–23

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 knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Gospel: Mt. 28:16–20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

In other words 

Fr. Jose Honorio P. Mateo, SVD (Paraguay, South America)

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension. The First Reading narrates the Ascension of Jesus and the Father’s promise to send the Holy Spirit. The Second Reading describes how God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand. In the Gospel, Jesus ascends into heaven, makes us witness of his Resurrection, entrusts us the mission to make disciples of all nations, and assures us of his everlasting presence. Today we shall reflect on the meaning of the Ascension. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that that “the Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Christ’s humanity into God’s heavenly domain. In the Ascension, Jesus precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we may live in the hope of one day being with him forever. In heaven, Jesus intercedes for us and assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 665-667). The Ascension means the completion of Jesus’ mission and the end of his earthly ministry. It signals Christ’s return to heavenly glory.

For the disciples, the Ascension means the beginning of the preaching of all that Jesus had taught them. The mission of spreading the good news had been passed on to them. The Ascension made them witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth. So while the Gospel of Luke is about all that Jesus taught and did, the whole book of the Acts of the Apostles is all about how the disciples became vigorous advocates of Jesus and champions of the good news.

For us, the Ascension is also a call to be witnesses of Jesus wherever we are, how we live, and how we speak. “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” These words are addressed to us too. It is a call to do something for God’s kingdom.

The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated in connection with World Communications Day. We reflect on how modern technology has shaped the way we communicate with one another. “The Catholic Church recognizes that if the tools of social communications are used properly, they can greatly benefit humanity. Reversely, if misused, they are incredibly detrimental.” (Inter Mirifica #2)

Fake news and bad news flood our lives nowadays. In this age of information, dis-information, and misinformation, we, the disciples of Jesus, must all the more advance the importance of the Good News in our lives!

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