Posted by: St. Florence Catholic Church | May 20, 2023

Fr. Oscar Hernandez Homily – May 21, 2023: The Ascension of the Lord

The Feast of the Ascension marks the Christian belief that Jesus ascended into heaven. What is ascension? What significance does the Ascension of Jesus Christ hold for our faith?

Much of our Christian beliefs are derived from two sources: Tradition and Scripture. There is no written evidence of celebrating the event until the fourth century, when one of the early church fathers, Augustine of Hippo, preached about it in a sermon. It is widely believed that the feast has been observed since the time of the Apostles, dating back to 68 AD.

There are many references both in the Old and New Testament of the Bible, concerning ascension. Some of these references occur before the event. For example, in the responsorial Psalm: God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord. The Lord Jesus Himself had spoken to His disciples about His ascension. 

For example, while they struggled to understand Jesus’ suffering and death, He told them that He was “going to the Father”. While on trial, Jesus had told the High Priest, “From now on, you will see the Son of Man, seated at the right hand of God most powerful, and coming on the clouds of heaven”. However, the Acts of the Apostles have described the event itself, Luke gives us an inside glimpse at how the events might have occurred. 

For forty days, He appeared to His disciples, encouraging them, instructing them, guiding them, and preparing them for the work that He wanted them to accomplish. He instructed them to begin their mission in Jerusalem and, thereafter, to spread out to the ends of the earth but, first, they had to remain in Jerusalem until they were given the power of the Spirit.

Lastly, he urged them not to worry about the “times” but simply to carry out their mission of proclaiming the Good News to all nations, Acts. Even while saying all these, He was lifted up and taken from their sight. 

The Ascension marks the end of Easter Season.

By entering into heaven Jesus completed His redemption work. It reminds us that heaven is our ultimate hope, and therefore, all of our activities should be directed toward this end. Just as Jesus went into heaven, so too will all Christians.  Accordingly, Let us think of the glories of heaven. Even the thought of heaven can illuminate our whole Christian life. It can inspire and encourage us to be more heavenly-minded.

Jesus came to liberate us from sin and death. He taught and preached the love of God. He healed the sick and fed the hungry. He forgave sins and reconciled people. He suffered and died. He resurrected on the third day. He appeared to his followers for forty days and finally ascended on high and is now seated in glory at the right hand of the Father. Now, we have been entrusted with the work he had begun for us and for us. Hence, to carry on Jesus’ work.  Also, it is understandable why people came to think of heaven and the abode of God as somewhere beyond the stars. However, today’s feast of the Ascension is not primarily about the departure of Jesus to some place beyond the stars. Instead, it celebrates the presence of Jesus at the heart of his church and of our world. The earthly Jesus was present to a small number of people in a very confined area at a particular moment in human history. The risen Jesus is present to all men and women in every area of the world and throughout all time.

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