Theme: THE LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO MAY ASCEND INTO HEAVEN WITH HIM IN GLORY
- Acts 1:1-11;
- Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
- Ephesians 4:1-7. 11-13
- Mark 16:15-20
Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday, that is, the descend of the Holy Spirit! The Easter Season of fifty days which began on Easter Sunday will end next Sunday with Pentecost Sunday.
The readings today tell us that the Lord ascends into heaven, not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit, so that we may do his work on earth, and so that one day we too may ascend into heaven with him in glory!
The gospel today tells us that after his resurrection and before his ascension, the Lord sent his apostles out into the world to preach the Good News, so that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not be saved!
And these are the signs associated with believers, that is, in the name of Jesus, they will drive out devils, they will speak in tongues, they will pick up snakes in their hands, and even if they drink poison they will not die, and they will heal the sick.
But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory! But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the apostles went out preaching and the Lord was working with them confirming their words with signs! The Lord was with them in the Holy Spirit!
The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his disciples instructing them on the kingdom of God, preparing them to preach the kingdom of God! Moses also spent forty days on the mountain and Jesus also spent forty days in the desert to prepare for their ministries!
More importantly, the first reading tells us that after forty days, the Lord will ascend into heaven in order to send down the Holy Spirit on the apostles, so that they will become his witnesses, not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea, and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth! That is, not only in Jerusalem where Jesus died, rose from the dead and gave the Holy Spirit, but also in Judaea, that is, to all the Jews, and also in Samaria, that is, to the “half-Jews”, and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to the non-Jews, the gentiles, the pagans!
But most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord has been taken up into heaven in a cloud. And when the disciples were staring at him into the sky, two men in white (angels) appeared to them and said to them, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you staring into the sky, the Jesus that has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him go’, that is, he will return in a cloud in glory at the Parousia, that is, at his Second Coming at the end of the world, when all will be saved! The Responsorial Psalm is a hymn calling on all the nations of the earth to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel who is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations! (CSB)
The Responsorial Psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 2-3) calls on all the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of the God of Israel. The second and third stanzas (vv. 6-9) tells us that the God of Israel is enthroned as king of Israel and as king of all the nations!
In the liturgy today the Responsorial Psalm tells us about the Ascension of the Lord into heaven in glory! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; SM)
As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord today and as we will celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, the second reading tells us about the Holy Spirit! The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of unity! Because there is only one body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God! The “seven unities”! (CSB)
And although there are many gifts, that is, the gifts of being apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors and teachers; all these gifts unite into one service of the one body of Christ!
Today in the Eucharist, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, especially for his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven; and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we may do the work of Jesus Christ on earth, especially in proclaiming the Good News as apostles, prophets, evangelizers, pastors, and teachers, and so that at the end of time, we may all ascend into heaven with him in glory! A happy Ascension Day to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.