May 8, 2016 — Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Acts 1: 1-11; Ps 47: 2-3, 6-9; Eph 1: 17-23; Lk 24: 46-53
On this Seventh Sunday of Easter, most Catholics in the United States also celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. Traditionally, Ascension Thursday occurred 40 days after Easter (May 5 this year); however, most dioceses in the U.S. have transferred this Holy Day of Obligation to the Sunday following it, which this year is today.
Christ’s Ascension is important to us. It is one of our core beliefs, to the extent that when we profess our faith at Mass, regardless which Creed we use, we declare, “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” To deny Christ’s Ascension is to deny His Resurrection. Before His Ascension, which is described in our First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus tells His followers, “…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
We, too, have been baptized and imbued with the Holy Spirit. This Third Member of the Holy Trinity is the aspect of God that lives and empowers each of us. We may think that the Holy Spirit has more work to do among those who do not believe, but there is also considerable work to be done among those of us who do believe. We are called to serve; we are called to discipleship; we are called to lives of stewardship; we are reminded of that in all of today’s readings.
In his homily on the Ascension of Christ last year, Pope Francis said, “The Ascension tells us He is with God the Father, where He always intercedes in our favor.”