The Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter Sunday, the Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter. However, some Catholic provinces observe the Solemnity of the Ascension on the Sunday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Some dioceses in the world celebrated this Solemnity on Thursday, May 5th and others are celebrating this Solemnity today.
This Solemnity honors the day of Jesus’ bodily ascension into Heaven forty days after His Resurrection.
From the Mass Readings for the Ascension of Jesus:
” The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw Him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
’All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing 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 behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world.’ “~ Matthew 28:16–20
Excerpt from the First Reading:
“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. …
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.’ ”~Acts 1:1–11
This celebration of this Solemnity rekindles in us the zeal to: evangelize the world, prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus, and have a lively hope of eternal life with God.
We are reminded that every Christian is called to evangelize– to bring the news of salvation to the ends of the earth. Wherever you are on earth, you are called to evangelize, to spread the word that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that through Him, there is the forgiveness of sins and the hope of everlasting life! It is important to remember that evangelization begins right where you are– in your home, with your friends, family, and people in your community. God strategically places people throughout the world in different countries, states of life (priests, religious, laypeople), and professions in order to work through them to bring about the conversion of sinners and the ultimate salvation of souls.
We are reminded that we must prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus. Jesus will return. Only God the Father knows the day and the hour, but we must live lives of holiness so that when He returns, He will find us ready to meet Him. To grow in holiness, we must turn away from sin and seek God more than ever by daily prayer, frequent Confession (once a week or once a month), attending Mass daily or frequently or at least every Sunday including receiving Holy Communion. We must also prepare for Jesus’ Second Coming by doing works of charity and mercy. It is important to note that the greatest work of charity is bringing others to Jesus that they too may be saved and have eternal life. Furthermore, we must resolve to serve God in all we do.
“For in just a little while,
He who is coming will come
and will not delay.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe[a] in God, believe also in Me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. ”~John 14:1–3
Although Jesus ascended into heaven in bodily form, He has remained with us in sacramental form through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist by means of the Church.
When Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world,” He meant that He would remain present on earth in a special way though no longer in a visible bodily form. That is to say, we do not see Jesus walking around Jerusalem anymore. However, through His Sacramental presence through the Church and also through His Word (the Bible), He will continue to help us to live holy lives so that we are prepared when He returns in visible bodily form. The second time He comes, it will be in the sight of all mankind, for “every eye shall see Him.”
We are reminded that we have the hope of eternal life. God Himself offers us eternal life!
When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He returned to God His Father. By the merits of Jesus’ death on the cross and glorious resurrection, we too can spend eternity with God in Heaven at the end of our earthly lives. God wants us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven after our earthly lives. It is we who can choose eternal life with Him by the way we live our earthly lives.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”~John 3:16
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live …” ~Deuteronomy 30: 15–16
It is not enough to know about Jesus, but we must also have faith in Him, love Him, and serve Him. The way that we show our love for Jesus, who is God, is by being obedient to Him and putting what He said into practice in our lives.
Obeying God means that we strive to serve God in accord with His will for our lives. Obeying God also means that we must turn away from sin. It is important to recall that sin is an offense against God. We must ask for God’s grace to turn away from sin because we do not want to offend God whom we love and because committing sin can put the soul in danger of spending eternity in Hell. When we realize the we have sinned, we must first remember that God is merciful! He will forgive us through the Sacrament of Confession (Penance or Reconciliation) if we are truly sorry for our sins and desire to amend our lives.
May the Ascension of Jesus renew your zeal to bring others to Christ, to prepare for Jesus’ Second Coming, and to hope for eternal life!