On May 12, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, the entire Church acclaims Jesus Christ in his holy humanity, invited to sit at the Father’s right hand and to share his glory.
This feast celebrates what the Nicene Creed, which summarizes the important doctrines and teachings of the Church, says in these words: “And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father.”
In the first reading, the Acts of the Apostles describes Christ’s visible return to heaven and promises us that the One who suffered and died for us sits at the right hand of the Father. In fact, the holy sacrifice of the Mass re-presents the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Jesus’ death on the cross allows redemption in all ages.
Then, St. Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians, mentions that until now time retains a serious dimension given light by salvation history.
The temporal life that we live right now is the only life we have in which to work out our eternal destiny. We are tempted to harden our hearts, to darken our minds, and our wills can tend towards evil, debilitating our movement to God. Nevertheless, returning to God is always possible. Time is a precious gift of God. We know not its duration, and so our Lord invites us to use it fruitfully.
The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Ascension occurs 40 days after the Resurrection. The number 40 reminds us of the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness and the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. These events tell us that 40 means a long preparation, waiting for God’s will and teaching us unconditional obedience.
For 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus remained on earth. Filled with the glory and honor of his divinity, he appeared to his disciples at various times and places. By eating and drinking with his disciples and talking with them about God’s kingdom, Jesus guaranteed them that they were truly alive in his risen and glorified body.
Then, in the Gospel, we learn that Jesus left us his Church, the Holy Spirit and a mission to proclaim his message to the ends of the earth. Our baptism requires us to support his mission, be it through our prayers, our financial support or even our very lives.
Finding the truth
In our daily life, we need to discern. For instance, if we think the Spirit is telling us one thing, but the Church says another, then we must defer to the Church.
More than a few souls have strayed by pursuing what they think is an inspiration from God, when in fact it was their own capriciousness. This is precisely what the First Letter of John describes: “Do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Also John’s Gospel: It is “the Spirit of truth” who guides the Church “to all truth.”
In a similar way, the Solemnity of Ascension shows us Jesus as our intercessor. Our Lord is not simply a historical figure. The Christ to whom we pray is the son of the living God and is a living friend. Even though removed from our sight, he remains present to us, supporting us through the sacraments and teaching us through the magisterium.
Our belief in his real presence in the Eucharist should manifest itself in our faithfulness to the Church.
Deacon Fabián Moncada Benavides is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa. His home parishes are Our Lady of Americas and Basilica of St. John in Des Moines. His teaching parish is St. Rita in Cottage Grove.
Sunday, May 12
The Ascension of the Lord
- Acts 1:1-11
- Ephesians 1:17-23
- Luke 24:46-53
What is one thing you can do today to support the mission of the Church?
Category: Sunday Scriptures