Ascension Sunday – Year A

Resources Used:
Overall Message:
  • SCB – The revelation we celebrate on this day is that the direct experience of God revealed to men and women in Jesus of Nazareth continues to be experienced when the Body of Christ, the Church, gathers in witness, love and mission.
  • BB – Ascension represents the closing of Jesus’ public earthly mission. One of the most misunderstood feasts in Christianity. We tend to think Jesus as going up up and away – one here and now gone. Distant memory. That’s precisely what we do not mean. So what does it mean? Acts has ascension as hinge between life and ministry of Jesus on earth & now life & ministry of work of Church under guidance of Jesus (key to understand ascension). Sending of HS for animation of Church. We are part of this volume 2. We have been sent by the Spirit of Jesus. Two men in white – don’t just stand there… * Jesus went… to a place of command! * Survey from high point to command the armies. To direct the great work of His Church. Military example. Ongoing struggle. We have a commander who has taken his place on the heights to direct the work of the Church. 2nd reading Ephesians explains it more. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father – symoblic reference – a prime minister who directed concrete affairs of the state. NOT up up and away but get to work!
  • BB – Our puny human nature has been drawn up into the heavenly realm. No escape of soul from body at all like Plato, but resurrection of body and ascension of body in totality of his humanity. Our humanity brought to a higher pitch of existence. *What’s the best thing we can imagine? Grade 4… vs. now… so much more is being offered than what we can imagine. the ascension awakens our sense of longing, wonder and mystery. we cannot imagine what God has prepared for those who love Him.
  • FC – Talks about heaven… What does it mean to proclaim that Jesus “ascended into heaven”? We find the answer in the Creed. “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” That Christ has ascended into heaven means that he “is seated at the right hand of the Father,” that is, as man too, he has entered into God’s world; that he has been constituted the Lord and head of all things, as St. Paul says in the second reading.
  • FPJC – Ascension & Eucharist – “If we had not experienced all that we have experienced with Jesus – if we had not been given the Eucharist to memorialize Jesus Christ so that His presence becomes an event that continually re-happens – then the Ascension would be a day of sorrow and dread. As Jesus ascends, He calls us to a new depth of relationship with Him. Even though His physical body is removed from our sight, His presence is as close, active and intimate as ever. We access it, not with our eyes, but with penetrating faith. For faith is the acknowledgment of an exceptional presence that changes us. This is not a feeling. Rather, it is a judgment that we make on reality. I know that Jesus Christ is real because of the way my life has changed because of Him. The more I use my eyes and heart to recognize those verifications of Christ’s presence in my life, the more I am certain that Jesus is with us always, especially in the Eucharist” (107).
Acts 1:1-11

Today’s reading, which documents Jesus’ ascension, records Jesus’ last words to His disciples which includes this foretelling of the expansion of His Church.

7 He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you,

It is the preoccupation of an impending parousia that Jesus corrects, not the idea of Israel’s restoration (see also Mark 13:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). The Spirit is the substitute for the parousia. The Spirit is the principle of continued Christian existence in a new era of sacred history, the era of the Church and mission.

Ephesians 1:17-23

17 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.

Not knowledge merely of God’s plan, but knowledge “of him”, an experience of God’s great love for men in Christ that would be visibly shown in a true brotherhood of men.

Matthew 28:16-20

Commentators have said that this brief ending (this is the closing verses of Matthew’s gospel) is so rich that it would be hard to say more or greater things in the same number of words. It has been called an anticipated parousia, a partial fulfillment of Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man (Daniel 7 & 8). Its genre combines elements of an Old Testament enthronement pattern with an apostolic commissioning.

BARCLAY: Jesus did 3 things:

  1. Assure them of His power
  2. Gave them a commission – to win all men for himself (debate about baptism words)
  3. Promised them a presence – their hearts must have failed them with the commission to conquest the world… but Jesus’ promise of a presence came true.

17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

Their worship shows their faith, yet this is mingled with doubt – a common psychological experience which gives hope to us moderns. The mention of doubt on the part of some is a candid observation (recall that other gospel accounts refer to “doubting Thomas”). Through all the resurrection stories there runs the idea that those who saw Jesus did not recognize Him. The disciples see an appearance of the risen Jesus, but it is His words rather than His looks which are stressed in this narrative.

19 “Go, make disciples of all peoples, and baptize them in the name of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit” 

PB16 – Make disciples and baptize. Why isn’t it sufficient for discipleship to know the teachings of Jesus, to know the Christian values? Why is it necessary to be baptized? This is the theme of our reflection, in order to understand the reality, the profundity of the sacrament of Baptism. A first door is opened if we read attentively these words of the Lord. The choice of the expression “in the name of the Father” in the Greek text is very important: the Lord says “eis” and not “en,” and so not “in the name” of the Trinity like we say that a vice-prefect speaks “in the name” of the prefect, an ambassador speaks “in the name” of the government. No. He says “eis to onoma,” meaning an immersion into the name of the Trinity, a being inserted into the name of the Trinity, an interpenetration of the being of God and our being, a being immersed in God the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just as in marriage, for example, two persons become one flesh, become one single new reality, with a single new name.

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