Theme: THE RISEN LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN IN ORDER TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT AND TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR US IN HEAVEN
- Acts 1:1-11;
- Psalm 46:2-3. 6-9. R. v. 6;
- Ephesians 1:17-23
- Matthew 28:16-20
Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven! The readings today tell us that the risen Lord ascends into heaven not to abandon us, but to be with us until the end of time, that is, to give us the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news to the world, so that the world may believe and be baptized and be saved, and then the Lord will come a second time at the “Parousia”, that is, at the end of the world, to take us all into heaven!
The gospel today tells us that the risen Lord sends out his disciples to make disciples of all the nations, and to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And to teach all the nations to observe all the commands that he has given to them. And the risen Lord promises to be with the disciples until the end of time!
The gospel makes no mention of the ascension of the Lord and the giving of the Holy Spirit! The gospel presupposes the ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit!
The first reading tells us that after his resurrection the Lord spent forty days with his apostles, before ascending into heaven and sending down the Holy Spirit on the fiftieth day, and sending out his apostles to be his witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judaea and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth, that is, to proclaim the good news not only to the Jews in Jerusalem, but also to all the Jews in the whole of Judaea, and to the “half-Jews” in Samaria and to the non-Jews in the ends of the earth!
The first reading also tells us that two men in white told the apostles not to keep looking into the sky after the Lord’s ascension, because the Lord will come back in the same way as he has gone to heaven, that is, they will receive the Holy Spirit and proclaim the good news so that the world may believe and be baptized and be saved and then the Lord will come a second time at the end of the world to take us all into heaven!
The responsorial psalm is a song of praise to God who is enthroned as king of all the earth! The Church in its liturgy today uses this psalm to give praise and glory to the risen Lord who has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father and is the ruler of the whole universe!
Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.”! (Ps 46:6)
Finally, the second reading tells us that just as the Lord rose from the dead, ascends into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father, and rules the universe; one day we too will ascend into heaven and share in his glory!
Thus we read in the second reading: “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come.”! (Ep 1:18-21)
Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the good news to the world, so that the world may believe and be baptized and be saved, and so that the Lord may come a second time at the end of the world, to take us all into heaven! A happy Ascension day to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.