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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (C)
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 (Heb 9,24-28; 10,19-23): Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that men and women die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and since we have Aa great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.

Or (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 (Lk 24:46-53): Jesus said to his disciples: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.

“As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven”

Fr. Josep ALEGRE Abbot emerit of Santa Maria de Poblet (Tarragona, Spain)

Today, on the Ascension of our Lord, we once more remember the “mission” that we have been entrusted with: “You are witnesses of these things” (Lk 24:48). God's Word is still alive today: “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” (Acts 1:8). Also today, there is a current and urgent demand for the Word of God: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19); “He said to them, ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature’” (Mk 16:15).

On this Solemnity, this commission from our Master strongly reverberates. Jesus —wrapped up in our humanity— has completed his mission in the world, left us to sit at the right hand of the Father, and sent us strength from above —the Holy Spirit.

I cannot but wonder: —Is the Lord acting through me? What are the signs attached to my testimony? And I remember the verse of the poet: “You cannot wait for God to tell you: ‘I am’. A God that reveals his power does not make sense. You should know God blows through you from the very beginning, and if your chest burns and shows nothing, then God is working in it.”

And this must be our sign: the fire burning inside, the fire that —as with the prophet Jeremiah— cannot be stopped: The Word of God is alive. And one feels like saying: “All you peoples, clap your hands; shout to God with joyful cries… God has gone up with a shout; the LORD, amid trumpet blasts. Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praise” (Ps 47:2.6-7).

His kingdom is germinating in people's hearts —in your heart— like a seed about to bear fruit: Sing, dance, for your Lord. And, if you do not know how to, place the Word in your lips until it comes down to your heart: God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I can get to know you. Throw your light upon the eyes of my heart so that I understand the hope you are showing me the wealth of the glory you have ready for me, and the greatness of your power that you have displayed with the resurrection of Christ.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Christ has many members, but one body. Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace” (Saint Augustine)

  • “The Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles -our gaze- toward Heaven to show how to travel the road of good during earthly life. We can hear, see and touch our Lord Jesus in the Church, especially through the word and the sacraments” (Benedict XVI)

  • “Christ permanently exercises his priesthood in heaven, for he always lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through him. As ‘high priest of the good things to come’ (Hb 9:11) he is the centre and the principal actor of the liturgy that honours the Father in heaven” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 662)