READINGS for 2007-05-20

Didache | Companion | Sabbath


Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord


"Why are you standing here looking at the sky?” – Acts 1:11

On the last day of my father’s funeral in 1989, I felt a sudden surge of sadness knowing that I would never see him again. I stayed for as long as I could near his casket and gazed at his lifeless body. I didn’t want him to go. It was just too difficult.
      Later, after the burial, a few of my father’s friends approached me and consoled me, saying that my father loved me so much and he was so proud of me. It was indeed a consolation and I held on to it to help me move on.
      Jesus’ ascension is not supposed to be a sad occasion. It was a great miracle and the basic foundation of our faith as Christians. Jesus did not leave us empty-handed. He sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us in moving on in life as we await for the day when we will see Him again. Jane G.

It is time for us to “stop gazing” and get to work for the Lord.

Bless me, Lord, that I may be a good witness.



Acts 1:1-11

Jesus’ ascent into heaven marks the passing of His physical earthly ministry. It is now the time for the Church, the new and mystical Body of Christ, to take up the reins of the Gospel and bring the Good News to the ends of the earth. These are the parting words of Jesus to His Apostles. The commission to evangelize is the commission of our Baptism so it is the duty of all Christians to live and proclaim the Gospel. Let us take responsibility for it in our own lives and not just leave it up to the preachers and teachers to do the job. At the very least, let us all be committed to living our Christian life without compromising the truths and values of the Gospel.
1 In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught 2 until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 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. 4 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; 5 for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 When they had gathered together they asked him, “LORD, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 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, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. 10 While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. 11 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.”

P S A L M 

Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

R: God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

1 [2] All you peoples, clap your hands, shout to God with cries of gladness. 2 [3] For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome, is the great king over all the earth. (R) 5 [6] God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy; the LORD, amid trumpet blasts. 6 [7] Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praise. (R) 7 [8] For the king of all the earth is God; sing hymns of praise. 8 [9] God reigns over the nations, God sits upon his holy throne. (R)


Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23

Jesus ascends to the glory of heaven not because He wants to escape a sinful earth but in order to be reunited with His Father and so send us the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in all of its activities and life. He has died and marked the way for all men and women to follow. There is nothing that God asks us to do that He has not done first and shown us how to do it. There is no reason to fear anything that God calls us to do because Jesus has been there before, will be with us in the present moment and will not abandon us in the future.

24 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. 25 Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; 26 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. 27 Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, 28 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. 10: 19 Therefore, brothers, since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary 20 by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, 21 and since we have “a great priest over the house of God,” 22 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. 23 Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.


Luke 24:46-53

I like to meditate upon the fact that the apostles initially returned to Jerusalem with great joy, continually praising God. This was the right response to Jesus’ ascension into heaven. I wonder what went wrong so that the next we hear of them from Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles this time, they are cowering in the upper room in fear of the Jews! Perhaps it just demonstrates how human the apostles were and how easy it is to lose our trust in God. Nevertheless, let us seek to live our lives in the promise of God’s glory and also our own if we remain faithful to His commission.
46 Jesus said to his disciples: “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 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.” 50 Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. 51 As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. 52 They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and they were continually in the temple praising God.

my reflections
Let us take responsibility for it in our own lives and not just leave it up to the preachers and teachers to do the job.



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Departing from people and from places is part of life. Moments of farewell are painful, especially when a person we love leaves us. And so it really surprised me when I first realized that St. Luke writes that after the Lord’s Ascension the disciples “went back to Jerusalem full of joy .” Were they glad He was gone because now He would not be able to demand so much from them?
      Nothing would be more wrong than such an interpretation. Jesus’ departure was not the loss of a leader. It was not the end but the beginning. It was the first step in the growth of His Church. The celebration was over, the mission begun. Until now Jesus was bound to certain places; He could be present only to those who could see him with their physical eyes or hear Him with their physical ears. His presence so far was a matter of fact; from now on it would be a matter of faith. From now on He would be present everywhere. And so the story of the Ascension is not a story about Jesus being taken away from us, but a story about Jesus being given to us for all times and for all places as a matter of faith. Jesus did not become absent, only invisible. And so we actually do not have to wait for a second coming of Christ but for that moment when the invisible Lord whom we encounter in faith becomes visible again at the end of times. It is like the sun on a cloudy day: we don’t see the sun but we know the sun is there.
      Pope Paul VI spoke rightly of the sevenfold presence of Christ among us: Christ is present “where two or three are gathered in His name.” He is present in the poor, the hungry, in the prisoners and marginalized. Christ is present in his Church, in the Word proclaimed, in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. As the Preface of today’s Mass expresses it beautifully, He “has passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us but to be our hope.”
      Unfortunately, we often live as if Christ were absent and not concerned with us, especially when problems, sufferings and crises come our way. The first message of today’s feast, therefore, is very consoling: Christ is with us in whatever situation we may find ourselves. A second message gives us hope. Again, the Preface says, “Where He has gone, we hope to follow.” Fr. Rudy H.

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do I have the impression that God is far away? How can I make myself more conscious of Christ’s sevenfold presence?

Lord, forgive me for forgetting so often that You are always near. Help me especially to see and encounter You in the “least of my brethren” and serve You there with kindness and love.

St. Anastasius XIII, bishop, pray for us.

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