Acts of the Apostles 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.”
Brothers and sisters, I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says: He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men. What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth? The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature to manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Ascension is about Jesus going to the Father. Probably most of us do not spend much time thinking about Jesus going to the Father. We don’t think too much about our own life and about our own “going to the Father.” But there is no doubt that we, too, will go to the Father if we believe.
Jesus is God. When Jesus goes to the Father, it is a much stronger reality in terms of its meaning than our own going. On the other hand, for us personally, our own “going to the Father” is very, very important. In order to understand our own “going to the Father” we must understand a bit about Jesus and His “going to the Father.”
Jesus is God. Jesus takes on our own human nature, our own reality, and lives our human life here on earth. He calls people to follow Him and many do follow Him. He is condemned to death, dies, rises and is present once again to His followers, inviting them to trust entirely in His resurrection. Then He ascends. He goes back to the Father and leaves us here on earth to follow Him and to be His presence here on earth.
In our own lives, we are created in God’s own image. When we believe, we can call others to follow Jesus as we ourselves follow Him. Some will and some won’t. But as followers of Jesus, we should always invite others to follow Him. We shall die, whether we like it or not. As followers of Jesus, we can accept death without fear and know that death is the gate to life with Him.
We will rise when Jesus calls us. No one knows this sequence after death. All we know is that Jesus calls us to trust Him entirely and to place ourselves into His hands. Fro us, resurrection and ascension are the same movement. As Jesus goes to the Father, so we go to the Father.
If we look back in our own present lives, we should be able to see the movements of God’s Holy Spirit at work within us. There is such a difference when we do accept Jesus as our Lord and acknowledge Him as the only Salvation. He is the only way to the Father. This sounds very fundamental, and it is fundamental to our faith. On the other hand, we have to trust that God is calling all men and women to Him in His own way. Many people who would never speak of our Lord Jesus are still being called by Him in mysterious and wonderful ways. Many people who follow other faiths are still being called in Christ Jesus.
As we cone to the Father in this life, we must also rejoice in what good we see, whatever love exists, whatever truth is sought by others. God is so much larger and so much more mysterious than we can imagine. Yet all salvation comes through Jesus Christ, true God of true God. All love is a reflection of Jesus Christ, truly human and truly God.
As we celebrate today the Ascension of our Lord, let us rejoice in all that is good, all that is holy, all that is true and all that is beautiful. Let us open our eyes to see God deeply and personally at work in our world, calling all women and men to share in the salvation of Jesus Christ. As Christ goes up, let us shout with joy: alleluia!