Fr Vincent's reflections on the Ascension of our Lord 2021
The Feast of the Ascension celebrates Jesus’ return to Heaven. But it also means we, his followers, have been left on earth to continue his work. Today we need to reflect on how each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, the Church, is sharing in the spread of the Gospel for the salvation of the world.
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the Ascension of our Lord 2021
Read the script:
Ascension of our Lord (May 16, 2021)
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, 2021, 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,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is Mark 16:15-20.
✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
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.
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
The Opening Prayer captures our reason to celebrate the Ascension of Jesus:
“where the Head has gone before us in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.”
We are his Body, the Church, and He, our Head, has commissioned us to proclaim the Gospel to all people that they might believe and join us as members of his Body.
It would have been too easy for the Church had Jesus stayed in his human presence. We would have let him do all the work! But even then, I wonder if He would have attracted as many believers. Personal testimony and example are always more attractive. I’ve often heard this from skeptics: “You’re a priest; you’re supposed to say that (talk about faith). Why don’t the people in the pew show the same enthusiasm?” Why don’t they? Why don’t you?
Jesus has gone to Heaven so that all his followers could proclaim the Gospel themselves; believers do attract others to believe. As the adage goes, “word of mouth sells!” That is true and accurate, even today. What led to the spread of the early Church was that everyone talked about it, even at the risk of their lives, because they knew to so was to follow Jesus here on earth and be assured of a place beside him in Heaven.
So many have fallen into the mind-set that “if I believe, that’s enough to get me to Heaven.” But they truly don’t follow the lead of our Head, that is to proclaim the love of God, the need to be a part of his Kingdom here, to share God’s love in action and in concern for others.
If any of us leave the duty to share the Gospel to others, how much of a member of Christ’s Body are we really? There is work and there is risk involved. We might be rejected more than we are accepted. But we are proving to others, to ourselves, and to Jesus that his message matters. He left us here with that specific task. And that is how we guarantee we will follow our Head into the glory of Heaven.
And now, I would like to offer the tri-part Blessing for the Ascension:
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
Bow down for the blessing.
May almighty God bless you,
for on this very day his Only Begotten Son
pierced the heights of heaven
and unlocked for you the way
to ascend to where he is. R/. Amen.
May he grant that,
as Christ after his Resurrection
was seen plainly by his disciples,
so when he comes as Judge
he may show himself merciful to you for all eternity. R/. Amen.
And may you, who believe he is seated
with the Father in his majesty,
know with joy the fulfillment of his promise
to stay with you until the end of time. 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.