Theme: THE LORD ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN NOT TO ABANDON US, BUT TO SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE WITH US UNTIL THE END OF TIME
- Acts 1:1-11;
- Psalm 46 (47): 2-3. 6-7. 8-9. R/ v. 6;
- Hebrews 9:24-28. 10:19-23
- Luke 24:46-53
1. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven! Liturgical Year C. The Lord ascended into heaven not to abandon us, but to send us the Holy Spirit to be with us until the end of time! (Gospel Acclamation; Mt 28:19. 20)
The gospel today tells us about the ascension of the Lord, but more importantly, the gospel tells us that he will send us the Holy Spirit so that we will be his witnesses to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem! The Church is the New Jerusalem!
2. The first reading is a continuation of the gospel. The first reading begins where the gospel ends. The first reading is also written by St. Luke. The first reading also tells us about the ascension of the Lord, and more importantly, the first reading also tells us about the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, so that they will become the witnesses of Jesus not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judea (Jews), and Samaria (Samaritans/Half-Jews) and indeed to the ends of the earth (gentiles)!
The difference between the first reading and the gospel is that in the gospel the ascension happened on the day of the resurrection, but in the first reading it happened forty days after the resurrection! The forty days is symbolic of the time taken by the risen Lord to instruct and teach the disciples about the kingdom of God to prepare them to receive the Holy Spirit to become his witnesses!
The people of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land! Moses spent forty days in the mountain before receiving the Ten Commandments! Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness before his ministry! Our catechumens spent forty days of Lent in intense preparation for baptism! We spent forty days of Lent in intense preparation for the renewal of our faith and baptism! Forty years is also the time span of one generation!
The first reading also tells us that Jesus will return at the parousia (Second Coming of Jesus) the way that he left at the ascension, that is, Jesus ascends into heaven to give us the Holy Spirit to continue his work of salvation and when we have completed his work of salvation he will return at the end of the world (parousia) to take us all into heaven!
3. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the ascension of the Lord. Thus we responded three times:
“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; Sunday Missal (SM))
The responsorial psalm is originally an enthronement psalm. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God. The second and third stanzas tell us about the enthronement of God as king of all the nations!
The Church has applied this psalm to the ascension of the Lord. Thus verse 6 from which the response is taken, is taken to mean the ascension of the Lord into heaven:
“God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” (Ps 46 (47): 6; SM)
4. The second reading also tells us about the ascension of the Lord. The second reading tells us that the Lord has ascended into heaven and he is now interceding for us. More importantly, the second reading tells us that he will return at the Parousia for our complete and final salvation, that is, to take us into heaven! Thus we read:
“When he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.” (Heb 9:28; SM)
Indeed, that is our prayer in today’s Mass! The Opening Prayer, the Prayer over the Gifts, the Preface, the Prayer after Communion, and the Solemn Blessing; all pray that one day we will ascend into heaven with the Lord!
5. Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension into heaven and we ask God to send us the Holy Spirit so that we will be his witnesses to the ends of the world!
Again, a happy Easter and Ascension Day to all of you, and let us continue to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, that is, next Sunday!