Thursday, 30 May 2019 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, remembering the glorious moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in glory to return triumphantly to His heavenly throne, and from then on no longer physically visible among us in this world. And yet, the Ascension did not mark the moment when God left us behind in this world, for even though He has ascended into heaven, He did so in order to prepare a place for us just as He Himself told His disciples.

The Lord ascended in glory as He has completed His earthly ministry, and He ascended to enter into the heavenly sanctuary as mentioned in today’s Epistle to the Hebrews, our second reading passage. And He is truly our one and Eternal High Priest, in the image of the Jewish High Priest who in the olden days offered sacrifices on behalf of the people to absolve them from their sins. The blood of the animal sacrifices is spilled onto the altar as a sign of the reconciliation and the renewal of the Covenant of the people with God.

Christ, our one and true High Priest has offered not the blood of animal sacrifices, but His own Most Precious Blood and also His Most Precious Body, laid bare on the Altar of the Cross, and by that singular act of perfect and ultimate love, He brought salvation to all of us by establishing a new and eternal Covenant, one that will no longer be destroyed or be dissolved. For it was by His own Blood that He has sealed and offered this new Covenant with us.

And having won for us all a victory over sin and death, and by sealing a new Covenant of love with us through His Blood, He has prefigured for us the moment of our own triumphant glory, as we share in His glorious resurrection through the Sacrament of Baptism we have received, and now through His Ascension, He revealed to us what all of us will also share with Him, when all of us will be fully reunited with Him in His eternal kingdom.

He ascended in glory as He said, in order to prepare the place for us all, in His heavenly kingdom, and as a prefigurement and preparation for our own glorious reunion with God in the time of His choosing. And we are truly so fortunate that God, Who has been so loving and so gracious towards us, gave us so much of His love that even as He ascended in glory to heaven, He did not leave us all alone, but gave us the perfect support and help in the Holy Spirit.

As we draw closer to the end of the season of Easter in about ten days’ time, with the Solemnity of the Pentecost remembering the moment when the Lord sent His Holy Spirit into this world, all of us gather together as we all also remember God’s love for each and every one of us, for His faithfulness and commitment to the Covenant that He had established with us, by the giving of His Holy Spirit.

The Lord has given us this gift of the Holy Spirit and provided for us the strength and the courage through the same Spirit. However, He is also expecting us to bear rich fruits of the Spirit, that is the fruits of love, the fruits of joy, the fruits of peace, the fruits of patience, the fruits of kindness, the fruits of goodness, the fruits of faithfulness and the fruits of gentleness and self-control. And if we do not cultivate the gift of the Holy Spirit in us, how can we then bear rich fruits?

How do we then cultivate our lives so that we can bear rich fruits of the Holy Spirit from now on? It is by dedicating ourselves and our whole lives to follow the way of the Lord in our every words and actions, by spending time, effort and attention to be sincere in how we live our lives, by putting God at the very centre of our whole actions and in every interactions we have with each other.

Let us all be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be filled with hope to carry on our lives from now on with a new purpose and energy that we will draw ever closer to God, and be more committed to our Christian living from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 30 May 2019 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 46-53

At that time, Jesus said, “So it was written : the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in His Name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. And that is why I will send you what My Father promised. So remain in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus led them almost as far as Bethany; then He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And as He blessed them, He withdrew, and was taken to heaven. They worshipped Him, and then returned to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple, praising God.

Thursday, 30 May 2019 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 9 : 24-28 and Hebrews 10 : 19-23

Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the True One, but Heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God, on our behalf. He had not to offer Himself many times, as the High Priest does : he, who, may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise, He would have suffered many times, from the creation of the world.

But no; He manifested Himself only now, at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once, and afterward are judged, in the same way, Christ sacrificed Himself, once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin, when He comes again, to save those waiting for Him.

So, my friends, we are assured of entering the Sanctuary, by the Blood of Jesus Who opened, for us, this new and living way, passing through the curtain, that is, His Body. Because we have a High Priest in charge of the House of God, let us approach, with a sincere heart, with full faith, interiorly cleansed from a bad conscience, and our bodies washed, with pure water.

Let us hold fast to our hope, without wavering, because He, Who promised, is faithful.

Thursday, 30 May 2019 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

God ascends amid joyful shouts, the Lord amid trumpet blasts. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

God is King of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

Thursday, 30 May 2019 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 1-11

In the first part of my work, Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when He ascended to heaven. But first He had instructed through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles He had chosen. After His passion, He presented Himself to them, giving many signs that He was alive, over a period of forty days He appeared to them and taught them concerning the kingdom of God.

Once when He had been eating with them, He told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the fulfilment of the Father’s promise about which I have spoken to you : John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit within a few days.”

When they had come together, they asked Him, “Is it now that You will restore the Kingdom of Israel?” And He answered, “It is not for you to know the time and the steps that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.”

After Jesus said this, He was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight. While they were still looking up to heaven where He went, suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up at the sky? This Jesus Who has been taken from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen Him go there.”