The Lord’s Ascension

World Communication Sunday

First reading: Acts 1:1–11

In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days  and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Second reading: Eph. 1:17–23

Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Gospel: Mk. 16:15–20

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

In other words

by Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD (Christ the King Seminary, Quezon City)

The First Glorious Mystery of the Rosary is the Resurrection. The Second Glorious Mystery is the Ascension. The Third Glorious Mystery is the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Today is Ascension Sunday. Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday.

The First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes the Ascension event in detail. “When he had said this, as the (disciples) were looking on, (Jesus) was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” This is the majestic description of the Ascension story in a nutshell.

Jesus instructed the disciples, “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” Jesus also said, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

After his passion Jesus appeared to his disciples over a period of forty days and taught them about the Kingdom of God. One day as the disciples looked on Jesus was lifted up and a cloud took him from their sight. He who came down is the same one who went up, above and beyond the heavens, to fill the whole world with his profound and everlasting presence.

Our faith in the Lord’s Ascension is part of the Profession of Faith that we recite every Sunday: “On the third day, he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father from where he will come to judge the living and the dead.”

This is what the whole of Christendom celebrates today. Ascension Sunday commemorates Jesus’ exaltation and glorification by the Father. He is now seated at God’s right hand.

I remember a beautiful sermon by Blessed John Henry Newman (PPS Vol. 6, no. 10): “Christ’s going to the Father is at once a source of sorrow because it involves his absence, and of joy because it involves his presence. Out of the doctrine of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus spring those Christian paradoxes often spoken of in Scripture, that we are sorrowing yet always rejoicing, as having nothing yet possessing everything.”

The Blessed Mother is the first recipient of the gift of heaven. Mary’s Assumption shows the truthfulness of the statement: “Where he has gone, we hope to follow.” Hence Mary is Regina Caeli, the Queen of Heaven. Like Mary let us seek the things that are above. Let us set our minds and hearts on things heavenly, not a ways on things that are earthly, things that are transitory.

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