Homily Solemnity of the Ascension

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Homily Solemnity of the Ascension

Reading 1: The author, Luke, begins by referring to his first book, which we know as the Gospel of Luke. The focus of the Gospel was all that Jesus did and taught until the Ascension. The Acts begin with the same event, the Ascension, and the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles and the Church. Luke connects the Ascension with Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Spirit.

Then on the day of his ascension, Jesus gave the Apostles their final and foundational mandate. “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The Apostles still did not fully understand what Jesus was saying. So he further explained to them. “When the Holy Spirit comes you will receive power and you will be my witnesses throughout the world.”

How important is being baptized with the Holy Spirit, receiving his anointing power? Significant enough for this to be the last statement Jesus makes to the Apostles before he returns to the Father.

It reflects Jesus’ personal experience in his life as the God-Man. After his public commitment to the Father in being baptized, accepting his mission as Savior of the world, the Father confirmed Jesus’ yes and poured upon him the fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders as his credentials.

So now, the Apostles are to go forth to witness the message of salvation through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus with the coming of the Holy Spirit, but also with the second coming of Jesus at the end of time

Gospel: In the first reading we heard Luke’s account of the Ascension of Jesus as found in the Acts of the Apostles. Now, we hear of his account in the Gospel narrative. Jesus first reminds them of what had been written in the Old Testament about the Messiah. He must suffer, die, and rise on the third day. He came to call people to repentance, so that through his death and resurrection sins are forgiven. This is the message they are to witness and preach.

And again, as he said at the Last Supper, Jesus reminds them of the coming of the Holy Spirit who will come upon them, anoint them and empower them. Then he departs from them. They returned to Jerusalem joyfully going to the Temple to praise God.

What is the difference between this scene and that of Jesus’ pre-resurrection appearance on Easter? On Easter they were hiding behind closed doors in the Upper Room, fearful for their lives and ashamed of their lack of courage. Now, having seen and been in the risen Lord’s presence for forty days, they are changed men. They are no longer afraid for their lives but waiting expectedly for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They are eager to witness the Good News of salvation in the power of the Holy Spirit. The risen Jesus has changed their lives. They had many encounters with Jesus but the one that sealed their relationship and their conviction and resolve to be his witnesses was encountering the risen Lord, who is True God and True Man.

Reading 2: Three main ideas are given to us. First, the initial part of the reading says “Christ…entered heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.” The second, Jesus’ first coming was to take away sin. But he will “appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” Third, because of Jesus we now can approach the throne of God with confidence, for we have been washed by the blood of the Lamb. God’s promises are true.

It was necessary for Jesus to ascend to the Father for two reasons. One to send the Holy Spirit who continues and completes the plan of God. Second to come again in glory as Lord of Lord and King of Kings. We are in this in-between time, called to hold unwaveringly to our confession and to witness boldly in the power of the Spirit the love of God for each of us.



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