((Readings: 1st: Acts 1:1-11; Ps: 46; 2ndEph 1:17-23; Gos: Mt 28: 16-20))

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. The first reading from Acts of Apostles gives a dramatic account of how Jesus slowly rose from the ground and disappeared into the clouds while the disciples were still watching and staring at him. Suddenly two men in white (Perhaps Angels) were seen standing near them and they said: “Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there”. This happened 40 days after the resurrection.

In the scripture, we also read that patriarch Enoch (Gen 5:24), and prophet Elijah (2 Kgs 2:9-15) were taken with their Body into Heaven. We believe that Mary mother of Jesus was also assumed with her body into heaven. Perhaps we are also familiar with Jacob’s dream in Gen 28:12 where he saw a ladder set up on earth to heaven and Angels of God ascending and descending on it. Jesus has completed his mission by fulfilling his Father’s will. So, as a good son, He has returned to render a full account of his work to his father. Ascension of Jesus does not refer to any travel into space but that Jesus was transformed into heavenly Glory. He ended his bodily presence here on earth.

A beautiful old story tells of how Jesus, after his ascension into Heaven, was surrounded by the Holy Angels who began to enquire about his work on earth.  Jesus told them about His birth, life, preaching, death, and resurrection, and how he had accomplished the salvation of the world.  The angel Gabriel asked, “Well, now that you are back in Heaven, who will continue your work on Earth?”  Jesus said, “While I was on earth, I gathered a group of people around me who believed in me and loved me.   They will continue to spread the Gospel and carry on the work of the Church.” Gabriel was perplexed.  “You mean Peter, who betrayed you and all the rest who ran away when you were crucified?  You mean to tell us that you left them to carry on your work? And what will you do if this plan doesn’t work?”  Jesus said, “I have no other plan — it must work.” Truly, Jesus has no other plan than to depend on the efforts of his followers!

Ascension reminds us that we are foreigners here on earth, we are on a journey, and that heaven is our final destination rather than this world. There are three important basic teachings attached to the doctrine of Ascension:

  • THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: “…You will receive the Holy Spirit…and you shall be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 Christ must first ascend to the Father in order to send the Holy Spirit “Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; But if I go, I will send Him to you.” (Jn 16:7). Although Christ bodily ascends into heaven, He remains with us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus continues to live amongst us in different heavenly forms. He is present in us through his word, Eucharist, Neighbor, and the nature around us. Therefore, the ascension of Christ does not mean his absence from us. Rather it means his continuous presence through the Holy Spirit and in other divine forms.
  • THE PROMISE OF HIS SECOND COMING (PAROUSIA). Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us in heaven (Jn 14:2).  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “Jesus Christ the head of the church precedes us into His Father´s glorious kingdom, so that we the members of his body may live in the hope of one day being with Him forever” (665-667). The men with white clothes said “Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there” (Acts 1:10-11) So, today we celebrate because Christ has gone to prepare a place for us in his kingdom. We also celebrate the hope that he shall return to take us to be with him one day in our eternal home. Therefore, we need to remain awake and watchful while waiting for his second return.  We should however not underestimate his continuous presence in us.
  • CONTINUE WITH CHRIST´S MISSION: As we wait and prepare for Christ’s return, we are not supposed to remain Idle and stare upwards like the Men of Galilee. We are supposed to live a productive life by carrying out the mission Christ has entrusted to us in his farewell speech: “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations;” (Mt 28:18). Jesus prepared his disciples adequately for this ministry and ten days after his ascension he sent us the Holy Spirit to empower us in this basic Christian vocation. We must embrace this call with great zeal and hope.

In brief, the Ascension message is: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).   However, we need to take Jesus´ warning seriously as the disciples did. He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem until they receive the spirit.  At times we are in a hurry to begin our journey without or with very little preparation. The disciples must remain faithful to the novena to the Holy Spirit and pray until He comes.

PRAYER: Send forth your spirit. O Lord, and renew the face of the earth. Amen

Fr. Antony Muchui, SVD

 HAVE A JOYFUL WEEK!!   ((Contact our vocation office on +255629269140 or +254782299140))

“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the word and the spirit of Grace; and may the heart of Jesus live in the heart of all the people. Amen” SVD Prayer

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