OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

The Ascension of the Lord (Year A)

Ascension is not just a feast that happens to fall in Eastertide: it is an integral part of the Easter mystery. Remember the Lord’s words at the Last Supper: “I am going to prepare a place for, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me.” The resurrection presumes the Lord’s return to the Father. This is therefore a feast of hope: our hope in the Lord’s return, as he went. Our hope that he will take us with him, when our bodies are raised as his was. Our hope that we will take our place in heaven, where he sits on the Father’s right.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11
 
The writer is Saint Luke, and the first lines of this reading are a link between the Gospel which bears his name and this book. The Gospel dealt with everything Jesus said and did until he was taken up into heaven; Acts will tell the story of what happened next. The first paragraph is a summary of what happened in the forty days between the resurrection and today: Jesus “showed himself alive to them” (the Apostles) and instructed them. In the second paragraph they have gathered together (later Luke tells us it was on top of the Mount of Olives) to receive their final instruction - a promise of power, when the Holy Spirit will come down upon them. And with this power will come a task: to witness to all of this throughout the whole world. Then, in the mysterious last paragraph, Jesus disappears from sight, and a second promise is made: that he will return. One interesting point: this is one of only a handful of occasions when the words of the Lord Jesus appear outside the Gospel. You, as the reader, today have an even greater responsibility, because you proclaim not just the words of the prophets, or Peter or Paul, but of the Lord Jesus himself. If in your prayer and preparation you thin about this it will give your proclamation a power that will enter the minds and hearts of those listening.
 
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
In the first half of this reading, there are three key concepts: hope, glory and power, which are gifts for us. Where do we find this hope and glory? What power has God exercised for us? Paul gives the answer in the second half (beginning from “This you can tell”) We know about these things because of the resurrection and ascension. Because Christ has been raised, because Christ now “fills the whole creation”, THEREFORE we know that God gives us hope, God promises us glory, and God exercises power on our behalf. This is a difficult reading to proclaim: you must understand the way the two halves fit together. If you catch the passionate quality of the second sentence, it will help to get this reading across: underline “so that you can see”, “rich glories” and “infinitely great”, and then in the next line emphasise “This you can tell.”
Perugino "The Ascension of Christ"

From the Catechism

The Ascension
CCC 659-672, 697, 792, 965, 2795

CCC 659-664
"So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God." Christ's body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys. But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity. Jesus' final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God's right hand. Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul "as to one untimely born", in a last apparition that established him as an apostle. The veiled character of the glory of the Risen One during this time is intimated in his mysterious words to Mary Magdalene: "I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." This indicates a difference in manifestation between the glory of the risen Christ and that of the Christ exalted to the Father's right hand, a transition marked by the historical and transcendent event of the Ascension. This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who "came from the Father" can return to the Father: Christ Jesus. "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man." Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the "Father's house", to God's life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us. "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, "entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf."

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