The Ascension — commemorated June 5 this year — took place 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:3). On that great and glorious day the Lord Jesus was “lifted up before their eyes in a cloud which took him from their sight” (Acts 1:9).
For many years the Ascension was celebrated on Thursday of the sixth week of Easter because it was 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead and 10 days before Pentecost. But it was transferred to the seventh Sunday of Easter so Christians might participate more fully in the joy of this great event.
The Ascension is so important in the events of the life of Jesus that it is the meditation for the Second Glorious Mystery of the rosary.
The Ascension plays a key role in the glorification of Jesus, who emptied himself and was obedient to death on the cross. The Ascension adds to the glory of the Resurrection. It exalts Jesus Christ as Lord of heaven above and earth below. As the church comes to the end of the Easter season, it sets the stage for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
The Ascension makes a number of major points. Jesus is the King of Glory, the conqueror of sin and death, enthroned in heaven as Lord of all creation (Acts 1:32-33). Jesus has paved the way to heaven, and with the gates opened, all faith-filled believers can hope to follow him to their eternal reward.
Jesus commissioned his disciples to carry the Gospel to all nations and to teach others about him (Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:48-49), so we must carry the Gospel to others and teach them the Gospel with our Christian lifestyle and good example, as well as our personal testimony about how the risen Christ is alive in our lives and our words of explanation about who Jesus is and what Jesus taught.