Fr Vincent's reflections on Ascension of Our Lord Sunday
When we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, we celebrate the promise of God that where Jesus, our Head, has gone (heaven), we as members of his Body hope to follow.
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Feast of the Ascension 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our
Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Feast of the Ascension, let us begin with the Opening Prayer from today’s Mass.
Let us pray:
Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before us in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is: Matthew 28:16-20.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, I would like to offer for your reflection words from the Opening Prayer of the Mass, as well as the words from the Gospel.
“Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,” is how we begin our prayer, and isn’t that what we really need these days: “holy joys?” Even though we are in Phase 1 of the partial reopening, most of us are still a bit uneasy. The virus is still out there, so we must be vigilant; yet, the emotions of anxiety and fear seem to be stronger than thoughtful vigilance. Or, we want to speed forward and quickly forget any of this has happened and is still ongoing; frustration and anger control our thoughts and reactions to others. JOY is hard for anyone to grasp, but this is what we pray to receive – how wonderfully appropriate this Sunday!
“Holy Joy” invites us to realize life is not made up of just what we see and experience with our five senses. There is an unseen or unexplainable part of life. It’s like the apostles in the Gospel today: they saw Jesus, and “they worshiped, but they doubted.” Real world and spiritual world don’t always align. They knew Jesus had be raised from the dead, but they couldn’t figure out how. Our fears and our frustrations come from a need in our mind to be able to answer the questions life throws at us; we cannot give good answers, so our emotions take over.
We pray today to let God show us we don’t need to have all the answers; we don’t need to be in control. Why? Because God has raised Jesus from the dead; God has brought the Head of the Church into Eternity so that the Body will follow in time, as our Opening Prayer says. The “joy” of today is that the world does not have the last word nor the final answer!
And, yet, we are in this world with covid-19, and all the problems it is creating. This is where we live now, and this is what we must deal with now. Jesus, in today’s Gospel, actually gives us guidance here, too: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” We feel powerless against the evils of this world, but Jesus has the real power — related to the blending of spiritual and physical life. He doesn’t need to “fix” things to satisfy earthly longings because he, the Head, will bring us, the Body, to be reunited with him in eternity. When we realize our ultimate destiny, we can tolerate so much more of what this world throws at us because the purpose of my life is not to be here, but to prepare myself to be there – with my Head, Jesus. This is the exaltation the Opening Prayer mentions: “the Ascension of Christ is our exaltation,” that is, God’s plan to reunite us feeds my “holy joy.”
And when this world gets to me, and my emotions overwhelm me moment by moment, I also have the promise of Jesus, today: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” I might “feel” alone, but I am not! I might not “see” Jesus, but I know He is true to his promise, so beyond my emotions is the answer I give to this world: you don’t control and you can’t separate me from my God. His promise is all I need! This is the “hope” mentioned in the Opening Prayer, that we live anticipating a victory the same as Jesus, and that nothing should shake us from the hope and spiritual vision confirmed in the Ascension of Jesus.
And now, I would like to offer you the Easter Blessing:
May God, who by the Resurrection of his Only Begotten Son
was pleased to confer on you
the gift of redemption and of adoption
give you gladness by his blessing. R/. Amen.
May he, by whose redeeming work
you have received the gift of everlasting freedom,
make you heirs to an eternal inheritance. R/. Amen.
And may you, who have already risen with Christ
in Baptism through faith,
by living in a right manner on this earth,
be united with him in the homeland of heaven. R/. Amen.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.
Live in the peace of Christ, Alleluia, Alleluia!
R/. Thanks be to God, Alleluia, Alleluia!