Readings: Acts 1:1-11, Ps. 47:2-3,6-9, Ephesians 4:1-13, Mark 16:15-20

“So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19)

Today, we commemorate the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, a significant event that marks exactly forty days since we celebrated Easter. In today’s first reading, Luke tells us that Jesus showed Himself alive to his disciples after His resurrection through many demonstrations. “For forty days, He had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)

On the fortieth day of His resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples two important instructions: 1. Do Not Leave Jerusalem. They were to remain in Jerusalem because, within a few days, they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit (Pentecost is in a few days). 2. Do Not Worry About The Future; Instead, Focus on Spreading the Gospel. These were the last words of Jesus before His Ascension - “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” (Mark 16:15). This is an all-important task. If we fail to preach the gospel, we have failed God. Let us now consider other lessons in today’s readings:

1. Why Did Jesus Ascend to Heaven? After His resurrection, wouldn’t it have been nice if Jesus had remained in the world with us? Why did Jesus leave us? Jesus answered these questions by saying: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my father's house, there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I would go to prepare a place for you? And when I prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself; where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:1-3). In other words, Jesus ascended to show us that this world is not our final destination. Just as He has gone, we must follow when our time comes. Jesus ascended not because He no longer cares about us but because He needs to prepare rooms for us in heaven, our real home.

2. Does the Ascension of Jesus Mean He is No Longer With Us? If Jesus had not ascended, wouldn’t His physical presence be proof (and confirmation) to the world about the truth of His resurrection? Again, Jesus answered this question by saying: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you…. And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.… I have many things to say, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:7-13). Although Jesus is no longer physically with us, Jesus remains present in the Holy Spirit. Remember that Jesus said: “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). Even if Jesus were still with us physically, many would still not believe, but the Holy Spirit is here to convince us.

3. Will Jesus Ever Return to Us Again in the Flesh? While the disciples stood gazing at the sky, “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.’” (Acts 1:10-11). Jesus will come again in the flesh. Through several parables, Jesus clearly explained that He would come again. It is not for us to know when or how. Rather, we must keep busy with the task that God has entrusted us. “Be like men waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at the table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!” (Luke 12:36-38)

4. What Must We Do Now? St. Paul answers this question in today’s Second Reading: “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). When Jesus comes again, will He find me doing what He wants?

Let us pray: Grant, we pray almighty God that we, who believe that your Only Begotten Son, our Redeemer, ascended this day to the heavens, may dwell in spirit in heavenly realms. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (The Ascension of the Lord - Mass of the Day. Bible Study: Acts 1:1-11, Ps. 47:2-3,6-9, Ephesians 4:1-13, Mark 16:15-20).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu