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Thoughts to Live by | Solemnity of the Ascension

Updated: May 30

by Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo, O.M.I, Archbishop-Emeritus of Cotabato


Liturgy of the Word

Acts 1:1-11

Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrew 9:24-28 -10:19-23

Luke 24:46-53


1. Some Notes on the Ascension -- We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. He will come to judge the living and the dead. We declare these in our Creed.


2. The Old Testament says that heaven is God's home. It is transcendent and is inaccessible to us. But by God's gift, Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Sir.44:16) and Elijah (2 Kgs. 2:11; Sir. 48:12 were "taken up" to heaven to be with God. And Jesus, our High Priest, has entered the holy of holies which is heaven (see Heb. 4:14; 6:19; 9:24). He now lives with the Father and has taken a position of power and authority.


3. But heaven is also symbolic of God's presence everywhere, God's omnipresence. So, Jesus is present not only in heaven but also in the world, in a way that God is present. Sitting at the right hand of God, a pre-eminent position of power and authority, he has dominion over all creation (Eph. 1:20-23; 4:8-10). Thus, the meaning of the Ascension.


Benjamin West - Public Domain


4. 1st Reading, Acts 1:11 -- Luke reminds Theophilus that in his "first book," Luke's Gospel, he dealt with the teachings and deeds of the Lord Jesus "until the day he was taken up," after giving instructions to the Apostles "through the Holy Spirit" (vv. 1-2). The Lord had appeared to them during 40 days, "after he had suffered," speaking to them "about the Kingdom of God" (v. 3). He enjoined them to remain in Jerusalem and wait for a few days to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (vv. 4-5). For Luke, the Ascencion marks the end of the time of Jesus and the beginning of the time of the Church.


5. The Ascension. The site is Mt. Olivet (see v. 12). When the Apostles ask Jesus if he is now going to restore the kingdom to Israel, he answers, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority" (vv. 6-7). Even now, the Apostles continue to believe that Jesus, the Messiah, is a political leader. The Lord's answer echoes the Church's tradition that the time of the parousia remains unknown (see Mk. 13:32; 1 Thes. 5:1-3).


6. Jesus then alerts them to a coming event. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (v. . Then Jesus is "lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight" (v. 9).


7. As the Apostles continue looking at the sky, two men in white, angels, ask them, "Men of Galilee, why are you 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" (vv. 10-11). A reference to the Second Coming. Such is the Ascension, unspectacular, not in a blaze of glory, but simple, a "glorious mystery," nonetheless.


8. Responsorial Ps. 46:2-3, 6-7, 8-9 -- A Psalm calling all nations to recognize the God of Israel as Lord and King over all the earth. "All you peoples, clap your hands; shout to God with joyful cries. For the Lord, the Most High is... the great King over all the earth" (vv. 2-3). "God has gone up with a shout of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts. Sing praise to our king, sing praise" (v. 7). Our Liturgy has applied this verse has to the Lord's Ascension. "God rules over the nations and sits upon his holy throne" (v. 9).


9. 2nd Reading, Eph. 1:1-23 -- Paul writes the Ephesians that he always remembers them in his prayers, so that God, "the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him" (vv. 16-17). May you be enlightened to know the hope "that belongs to his call," the riches of glory "in his inheritance among the holy ones," and " the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe" (vv. 18-19). God exercised thus mighty power in raising Christ from the dead, "seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name" in all ages (vv. 20-22).


10. "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" (v. 23).


11. Gospel, Lk. 24:46-53 -- Risen from the dead, Jesus appears to the startled Apostles. He opens their minds regarding the prophecies about him, that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things" (vv. 46-48).


12. "I will send the Holy Spirit ("the promise of the Father") upon you. Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high," the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 49).


13. Jesus then leads the Apostles as far as Bethany. He raises his hands, and blesses them (v. 50). As he blesses them, he is "taken up to heaven" (v. 52). The Apostles do him homage and return to Jerusalem with great joy. They continually praise God in the temple (v. 53). Thus ends the Gospel of Luke. His next book, the Acts of the Apostles, will begin the age of the Church.


14. The Lord's Ascension reminds us of our own destiny, heaven, and of our need to have abiding fidelity and love while we live on earth. For from heaven Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.


15. Prayer -- Gladden us with holy joys, Almighty God. Make us rejoice with thanksgiving. For the Ascension of Christ is our exaltation. Where the Head has gone before in glory, we, the Body, are called to follow in hope. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord. Amen. (Collect of today's Mass).


Happy Ascension Day! Prayers, best wishes, God bless!


N.B. Today is also Catholic World Communication Day. Radio Veritas has warned the public to beware of someone, now using Radio Veritas unlawfully to solicit funds. We are in a period of fake news. We pray for the evangelization of media.

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