The Ascension of The Lord (C) / 7th Sunday of Easter (C)

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

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!

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!

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)

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!

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!

Indeed, the “Social Networks”, the internet, the Facebook, etc., can help us proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth!

Today, as we thank God for the ascension of the Lord, we also pray God that one day we will also ascend into heaven with the Lord!

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! Amen!

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD (B)

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!

Amen!

 

7th Sunday of Easter (C) – 8th May 2016

  • Acts 7:55-60
  • Revelation 22:12-14. 16-17. 20
  • John 17:20-26

We celebrated the Ascension of the Lord on Thursday. Today the 7th Sunday of Easter we continue with the theme of the Ascension in our Eucharistic celebration.

The celebration of the Ascension of the Lord includes the giving of the Holy Spirit so that we will also die and rise with him and ascend with him into heaven in glory! But more than that, we are given the Holy Spirit so that we can be witnesses to his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven so that everyone in the world will die and rise with him from the dead and ascend with him into heaven in glory! What hope! What grace! What hope! The Christian is not only a person of faith and love, but also a person of hope! Will everybody go to heaven and will there be nobody in hell? Yes indeed, that is our hope, and prayer and witnessing!

 

The Gospel of Ascension Thursday tells us to be witnesses to Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations beginning in Jerusalem. (Lk 24:46-53.) The first reading of Ascension Thursday also tells us to be witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:1-11) – so that the whole earth may ascend into heaven with him in glory! What hope for the world!

Today is also World Communications Day and Pope John Paul II in his message has said that no matter which age we belong to, past, present or future, all human beings ask the basic questions of life and death, i.e. Where do I come from? Who am I? What is the meaning of life? Where am I going? And the answer the Pope says is Jesus Christ! And today as we continue to celebrate the theme of the Ascension, the Church proclaims to the world the answer of the Good News, ‘You are loved by God and created by god for love and unity, for peace and happiness! Not for hate and war, not for sadness and suffering! You have been loved and saved by Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit you will die and rise with him and ascend into heaven with him in glory! …..

 

Today’s readings have also been chosen by the Church to tell us about the Ascension of the Lord and the giving of the Holy Spirit so that we may also rise with him and ascend into heaven with him and so that through our witnessing the whole world may also rise with him and ascend into heaven with him! Again, what hope! What hope!

In the 1st reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see St. Stephen filled with the Holy Spirit had a vision of the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. The Jews could not stand this vision of Stephen and stoned him to death. St Stephen the reading tells us died like Christ, surrendering his spirit to the Lord and forgiving his executioners. And most worthy of note is a young man called Saul who today we know as St. Paul!

In this first reading, we see that not only Jesus ascends into heaven, but St. Stephen also has a vision of his glory in heaven and dies like him and with him and in this way rises to a new life with him and ascends into heaven with him! But more than that the young man Saul who was one of the persecutors and executioners through the witness of St. Stephen also as we know from the Scriptures also died and rose with him and ascended into heaven with him in glory!

 

Again, the Church has chosen the 2nd reading from the book of Revelation to celebrate the Ascension and in anticipation of the celebration of Pentecost next Sunday with the theme “Come, Lord Jesus!” The Church wants to tell us that Jesus did not ascend into heaven to forget us and to leave us alone, but that the Lord will come back to us in the Holy Spirit! This time he will not only be with us, but within us! He will not only be on earth, but in us, so that we may be in Him! This time he will become us so that we become him! That is why in the Eucharist we eat his body and drink his blood, so that he becomes us and we become him! When we eat ordinary bread, the bread becomes us, but when we eat the bread of the body of Christ we become the bread of the body of Christ!

Again, the Spirit is given to us so that we may share in his ascension into heaven in glory and the Spirit is given to us so that we may be witness to Jesus and so that the whole world may share in his ascension into heaven in glory!

 

The Gospel reading has also been chosen by the Church to tell us that Jesus did not ascend into heaven to leave us alone, but that he will give us his Spirit so that we may share in his glory and so that united into one like him with the Father and with him in us and we in him we may be witnesses to Him so that the whole world may believe and share in his ascension and glory!

 

I want to draw your attention to the readings of Ascension Thursday again. You may have noticed that in the 1st reading we were told that Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after his resurrection, but the Gospel also written by St. Luke told us that Jesus ascended into heaven on the same day of his resurrection! In other words the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost are one and the same reality of the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ which we celebrate in the Eucharist!

In fact, in the early Church, it was not until the 4th century that the feasts of the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost were celebrated separately – with Ascension on the 40th day and Pentecost on the 50th day! And in fact, even Easter itself was not celebrated as an annual feast until the 2nd century! But from the very first century onwards, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost were celebrated as one big and in fact biggest feast every Sunday in the Eucharist!

I want to draw your attention to this fact so that we may celebrate our Sunday Eucharist every Sunday very seriously and solemnly. For it is here that we celebrate his Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. For it is here that he Holy Spirit will be given to us so that we will die, rise and ascend into heaven with him. For it is here that the Holy Spirit will be given to us so that we will be his witnesses, so that the whole world will die, rise and ascend into heaven with him in glory!

 

I want to conclude now with a personal sharing. Some years ago I have proposed to the priests’ meeting that the Ascension be celebrated on a Sunday. This is to emphasize the importance of the Ascension and to show that the Ascension, the Resurrection and Pentecost are one Paschal Mystery! Just as Easter and Pentecost are celebrated on Sundays, so too must we celebrate Ascension on a Sunday!

I have also proposed to the priests’ meeting that every Friday of the 50 days of the Easter season, the faithful be dispensed from fasting, abstinence and penance in order to celebrate Easter! We had been fasting and abstaining and doing penance for Lent and Good Friday, we must also celebrate Easter with joy! Easter is more important than Lent and Good Friday!

 

 

A happy Ascension to all of you! A happy World Communication Day to all of you! And a Happy Harvest Festival to all of you!

We thank God for the plentiful harvest and we pray that the Good Lord will continue to bless us with even more abundant harvests! We also pray that God may give us the grace to be good stewards of his creation so that we will not poison the earth with pesticides and chemicals, but that we protect and care for the earth so that it will yield abundant harvests for ourselves and for others!

God bless you!    Amen!