THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD. A Community with Its Eyes on the Earth. The gospel and the first reading recount how Jesus entered the glory of his Father. But the images used are not easy for us to understand and we run the risk of looking on the feast of Ascension with our eyes raised to the sky. This is exactly the opposite of what we should do. It is a feast that invites us to look to earth, to people among whom we are called to make present the work of the Master. Though Jesus was no longer visible, the disciples were full of joy and the gospel hints at the reason for it. And these same reasons should cause us to be joyful too. The second reading completes the message. Even though we must keep our eyes on the earth, we know that human life is not enclosed by it nor does it end within the narrow confines of this world.
Entrance Antiphon Acts 1:11
Men of Galilee, why gaze in wonder at the heavens? This Jesus whom you saw ascending into heaven will return as you saw him go, alleluia.
Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving, for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation, and where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope. Through our Lord…
“As they were looking on, he was lifted up.”
The beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1 : 1- 11)
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptised with water, but before many days you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 47:2-3.6-7.8-9 (R. 6)
R/. God has gone up with shouts of joy.
The Lord goes up with trumpet blast.
All peoples, clap your hands.
Cry to God with shouts of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
the great king over all the earth. R.
God goes up with shouts of joy.
The Lord goes up with trumpet blast.
Sing praise for God; sing praise!
Sing praise to our king; sing praise! R.
God is king of all the earth.
Sing praise with all your skill.
God reigns over the nations.
God sits upon his holy throne. R.
“He made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places.”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:17-23)
Brethren: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA Matthew 28: 19a.20b
Alleluia. Go and make disciples of all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, to the close of the age. Alleluia.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ”
The conclusion of the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 28: 16-20)
At that time: The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and be- hold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
St Luke begins the Acts of the Apostles with a detailed account of the Ascension of the Lord. The activities of the early church begin with the departure of the Lord. At the Ascension scene, the disciples stood still, looking up to heaven in wonder and amazement. It’s hard to describe their feelings as their Lord and Master disappeared from their sight. However, the two men in white robes reminded them of their new responsibility in the event of the ascension of the Lord. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven…?” this means that they have to go to the ends of the earth to be his witnesses, as Jesus had mandated them to. They have a mission to fulfil by moving out of their comfort zones to the dusty roads of suffering and struggle with the good news. They are assured of the accompaniment of the Lord in their mission: “… and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Although he sits “at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named,” he continues to live in our hearts, our homes and in our communities. Lord, make me your humble servant always.