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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Ascension (A)

1st Reading (Acts 1:1-11): 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.

While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for «the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit». 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».
Responsorial Psalm: 46
R/. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
All you peoples, clap your hands, shout to God with cries of gladness, For the Lord, the Most High, the awesome, is the great king over all the earth.

God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts. Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praise.

For king of all the earth is God; sing hymns of praise. God reigns over the nations, God sits upon his holy throne.
2nd Reading (Eph 1:17-23): Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And 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.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 28:19.20): Alleluia. Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 28,16-20): The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Jesus, they bowed before him, although some doubted. Then Jesus approached them and said, «I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations. Baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to fulfill all that I have commanded you. I am with you always until the end of this world».

«I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth»

+ Dr. Josef ARQUER (Berlin, Germany)

Today, we are given to contemplate a pair of blessing hands —our Lord's last gesture on earth (cf. Lk 24:51). Or some footprints up on a mount —the very last visible sign of God's steps on our earth. At times, this mount is also represented like a rock, and His footprints remain carved on the rock, not on the earth. As if alluding to that rock He mentioned that, soon, would be sealed by the wind and fire of Whitsunday. Our iconography, since long, is using such suggestive symbols. And also the mysterious cloud —simultaneously, shadow and light— that, already in the Old Testament, accompanied so many theophanies. The Lord's face would simply dazzle and blind us.

St. Leo the Great helps us to go still further in this occurrence: «What was visible in our Savior has passed over into his mysteries». Which mysteries? Those He has entrusted His Church with. The blessing gesture is developed in the liturgy, the footprints on the earth show the path to the sacraments. And they are the way that lead us to the plenitude of our definite meeting with God.

The Apostles had time to get used to that other singularity of their Master throughout that period of forty days, when the Lord —according to exegetes— does not “appears”, but, —faithfully following the literal translation— “lets himself be seen”. Now, in this last encounter, the amazement is renewed. Because they now discover that, in future, they will not only announce the Word, but they will instil life and health, with the visible gesture and the audible word: through the baptism and the other sacraments.

«I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth» (Mt 28:18). All authority... Go to all nations... Teaching them to fulfill all... And He will be with them —with his Church, with us— always (cf. Mt 28:19-20). And this “always” reverberates through space and time, while reaffirming us in our hopefulness.