Theme: THE LORD ASCENDS INTO HEAVEN TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO MAY ASCEND INTO HEAVEN WITH HIM
- Acts 1:1-11;
- Psalm 46:2-3. 6-9. R/ v. 6;
- Ephesians 1:17-23
- Matthew 28:16-20
1. A happy and blessed Ascension Sunday to all of you! Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven, Liturgical Year A. The Lord ascends into heaven not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit so that we may proclaim the good news to the whole world and so that the whole world may believe and be saved and so that at the end of the world all may ascend into heaven body and soul with Lord and share in his eternal glory!
The first reading tells us that the Lord ascends into heaven! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will send us the Holy Spirit so that we will proclaim the good news not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth! That is, proclaim the Good news not only to the Jews, but also to the half-Jews (Samaritans) and to the non-Jews (pagans)!
Most importantly, the first reading tells us that the Lord will come back at the end of the world in glory (NJB) when all will be saved; when all will ascend with him body and soul into heaven to share in his eternal glory! This is what we pray for in today’s Liturgy and Mass, especially in the Opening Prayer and the Preface!
2. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. According to Christian liturgical tradition, the responsorial psalm tells us about the Ascension of the Lord into heaven! (Ps 46:6; CSB) Thus the response:
“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46:6; SM)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The second and third stanzas (vv. 6-9) tell us that the Lord ascends into heaven in order to be enthroned as King of Israel and king of all the nations! The first stanza (vv. 2-3) tells all the nations to acknowledge the universal rule of Israel’s God! (CSB)
3. The second reading tells us that the Lord ascends into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father far above every Sovereignty, Power, Authority or Domination. Everything will be put under his feet and he will be the ruler of everything! He is the head of the Church and his fullness will fill the whole of creation! All creation will be saved and glorified! (NJB) Thus we read:
“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. He has put all things under his feet, and made him as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.” (Ep 1:19b-23; SM)
4. The gospel today tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven! The ascension is not mentioned because it coincided with the resurrection! (NJBC) The gospel also tells us that the Holy Spirit has already been given and the apostles are sent out to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey the commands that the Lord has given them and the Lord will be with them until the end of time! The Lord will be with them until the end of time in the Holy Spirit! The Spirit is the presence of Jesus among us (NJBC; 2 Co 3:17).
It is important to note the difference between the gospel today and the first reading today. The gospel does not have the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension, but the first reading has the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension (Ac 1:3). What does St. Luke who wrote the “Acts of the Apostles” want to tell us? St. Luke wants to tell us that we have to prepare ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit! (NJBC) Moses spent forty days on the mountain to prepare to receive the Law, Israel spent forty years in the desert before entering the Promised Land, Jesus himself spent forty days in the wilderness before his ministry, we spent forty days of Lent preparing for Easter and we spent forty days of Easter to prepare for the Ascension and to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost on the fiftieth day!
5. We prepare ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit by prayer, fasting, reading the Bible, reading the Sunday Mass readings, reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, etc. We prepare ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit by attending the Life in the Spirit Seminar, by attending Prayer Meetings, by attending Catechesis, by attending BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, by joining the Neo-Catechumenal Community, by joining the “Divine Mercy”, by attending the Alpha Course, by joining the Legion of Mary, by attending Sunday Mass, by almsgiving, by attending talks on the family, etc.! When we receive the Holy Spirit we will proclaim the good news so that all may believe and be saved and so that at the end of the world when Jesus Christ comes a second time we will all ascend into heaven body and soul to share in the eternal glory of the Lord forever! A happy and blessed Ascension Sunday to all of you!
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