Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the fortieth day of the season of Easter, on which day we mark the glorious Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven, the moment when He rose up to Heaven before all of His assembled disciples, who saw Him ascending and rising to Heaven returning to His Father and claiming His Throne and rightful place at the end of His earthly ministry. From then onwards the Lord was no longer seen in the flesh, and yet, He is still with us and by our side, for He is always ever present, and His Presence remains with us in the Eucharist.

But what is most important is that, while the Lord ascended in glory to Heaven, He also reassured His disciples and followers that not only He would still be by their side, but He would also send the Holy Spirit as the Advocate and Helper, to give them the wisdom and strength, the courage and power to do what He has entrusted to all of them to do. And at that same time, the Lord sent out His disciples and reaffirmed them in their mission, to preach and pass on the Good News of God’s salvation and His truth among the nations.

As Christians, all of us have been called to the same mission entrusted by God to His disciples, and He has also given us the same Holy Spirit to encourage us and strengthen us in our own lives and in our own actions and dealings with one another. And the Lord would not forget us and He is always be by our side, just as we heard in our Gospel passage today. Those who serve the Lord and walk in His presence will not be harmed, and this has the meaning that, in the end, if we remain firmly faithful to the Lord, then we shall be safeguarded and we shall not be disappointed, for no matter what challenges and difficulties we may face, in the end, the Lord will triumph and we shall also be triumphant with Him.

In his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, St. Paul elaborated how all of us who are faithful in God are one Body and one Spirit in Christ, as members of the same Body of Christ, the Church, and with the same Holy Spirit having come down upon us to inspire and strengthen us all. And through the Holy Spirit, God has given us many gifts, St. Paul mentioned how each and every one of us are given particular gifts, to serve the Lord faithfully in each of our own way, that in all things we may always glorify Him by our lives, and many will also come to believe in Him through us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is our calling and mission as Christians, to be the witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and to proclaim His love to all. This is not just the work of missionaries or the responsibility of priests and bishops, or any other ordained and lay ministers of the Church. Yes, these people are involved and some are very passionate and greatly involved in the works of the Church and in proclaiming God’s truth, but it does not mean then that we have no obligation or responsibility as Christians, as members of the Church.

On the contrary, each and every one of us share in this same mission to evangelise to the peoples of many nations as part of our common baptism, which we have received and shared together at the moment when we become members of the Church, be it as infants or as adults. We cannot pretend as if we do not have any responsibility or anything to do with the efforts of the Church in reaching out to more and more people. Instead, we have to be active parts of the Church’s evangelising and missionary efforts and works, at all times.

And we all have a part to play in the efforts to lead more and more people to the truth of God, and that is why we have to be active, in living our lives faithfully and becoming good role models and inspirations to one another in how we carry out ourselves in life and in how we interact with each other. That is how we can become genuine witnesses of the Lord and our faith in our respective communities. This is not just something for the members of the ordained ministry or any other lay ministers to do.

First of all, we need to support our priests and bishops, and all the deacons and others who have given themselves and their lives for the good of the Church and for the people of God they are ministering to. We also need to support those who have given themselves to the Lord as religious brothers and sisters, praying constantly for us all and through their own works daily. All of these have given themselves to the Lord wholeheartedly, in their own way, fulfilling what He has called them to, in their own vocation and way of life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as the Lord ascended in glory to Heaven, He is preparing for us all a place there, and He has shown us all the way forward. Now it is really up to us to do as He has commanded us to do. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves, our time and effort to do whatever we can to fulfil the mission God entrusted to us? If we think that we are not able to do this, or that we have no ability to do so, or thinking that we need to do great and amazing things then we are unable to do it, then we must realise that what the Lord is calling on us to do, is to make good use of the gifts He has given us in each and every moments of our lives.

That means, even in the smallest of actions and in the seemingly most insignificant of interactions, we should be exemplary and show God’s love through our actions, and really show how we are truly His people by our faith, by standing up for His truth at every possible opportunities. And we should work together with everyone, as members of the same Church, same Body of Christ, in glorifying the Lord through our actions and our lives. We are not alone in this journey, and together we can accomplish so much more than we ourselves alone.

That is why, let us from now onwards dedicate ourselves to the cause of the Lord, our Master and our King, ascended into Heaven, to prepare for us the place of eternal glory. Let us in our own way then fulfil all that He has entrusted to us, the mission to preach His truth and Good News to all the peoples of all the nations. Let us touch the lives and hearts of more and more people, so that through us and our genuine faith, we may inspire more and more people, even in small ways, to walk in the path of Christ, and together we may share in His glory, and receive the true and eternal joy in Him. May God bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 4 : 1-13

Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, Who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said : When He ascended to the heights, He brought captives and gave His gifts to people. He ascended, what does it mean, but, that He had also descended to the lower parts of the world? He, Himself, Who went down, then ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.

As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Ephesians 4 : 1-7, 11-13

Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, Who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Thursday, 13 May 2021 : 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, 13 May 2021 : 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.”

Thursday, 21 May 2020 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on the Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, on the fortieth day of this season, we celebrate together the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, celebrating the moment when forty days after His Resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in glory into Heaven, to return to His heavenly Throne, triumphant and victorious in the sight of all of His disciples who witnessed the events and testified about it on their missions and passed down the truth to us through the Church.

On this day, we remember that moment when the Lord was no longer physically present among His disciples and followers, when they can no longer directly see Him or touch Him as they had been able to during their approximately three years of following Him throughout His works and ministries. But this did not mean that the Lord abandoned or left His disciples, or ignored them and did not care about them any more. On the contrary, the Lord Himself specifically mentioned that He went to prepare the places for His faithful ones, and that He would also send a great Helper to assist His faithful.

This Helper or the Advocate is the Holy Spirit, Whom God promised to send to all of His faithful ones. The Holy Spirit is the source of strength and hope for all the faithful, the font of wisdom and truth for them during their works and ministries. And the Lord would fulfil this promise as in ten days after His Ascension, the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles as they prayed in a room, an event known as the Pentecost, and which also marked the birth of the Church.

All of these are reminders for each and every one of us that God will always be with us no matter what, and He will always provide for us and care for us at all times. He is always ever faithful to the Covenant He has established with us and we must also not forget that while we can see Him no more than the Apostles no longer could see Him after He ascended, but in truth, He is always close to us because of the most precious gifts He has given to each and every one of us.

The Lord has given us all through the Most Holy and Precious Eucharist, as the Most Precious Body and the Most Precious Blood of His own, that from the bread and wine offered by the priests in each and every Holy Mass, by the power and authority granted to all of them through His Apostles, God Himself, in the person of each of the priests, bishops and the ordained ministers of the sacred priesthood transformed those bread and wine into the real essence and presence, the matter and reality of His own Body and Blood.

This is because we truly believe that each and every celebrations of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are the very same sacrifice that Our Lord Himself had offered at Calvary, when He willingly bore the burden of the Cross and gave Himself to be the sacrificial Victim for the sake of our salvation and to free us from the destruction because of our sins and wickedness. The Lord has gone through all these for our sake because He truly loves each and every one of us, without exceptions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord, let us all therefore look up to the Lord and remember His love for us, and this Easter has indeed been a great time for us to recall the hope that we find through our Lord’s triumphant victory against evil and sin, His sacrifice to liberate us from our sins and from the chains of our bondage to these sins and wickedness. The Ascension is a reminder that if we are all faithful to the Lord, as He Himself had mentioned to His disciples, He will prepare for us all the place in the eternal glory and joy with Him.

On this day, we ought to remind ourselves that God has always been faithful and loving, ever fulfilling the part of His Covenant and His promises to us. Therefore we need to have faith in Him that no matter how challenging and difficult our lives’ situation may be like on earth, we must have hope and trust in God that everything will be fine in the end. And we all know how challenging and difficult life must have been for many of us in the past few weeks and months, all the fears and uncertainties we are facing at home and at workplace.

Many among us are enduring plenty of challenges and sufferings, some being sick from the pandemic, while others are economically affected because of the immense disruption this pandemic and other issues happening all around us had caused so far. Many have lost hope and even their loved ones, family members and friends in the past few weeks and months. It is understandable why many people are now despairing and suffering because of all these.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, it is our duty indeed to be the bearers of God’s hope to all of our fellow men, that we may truly proclaim His truth to everyone, that despite the darkness being present all around us, all is not lost because while we all certainly fear death and separation from our loved ones, but Christ by His triumph over evil and death, and by His glorious Ascension into heaven has shown us the path forward, a path of light and hope, free from darkness and despair.

Let us all bear this same hope, and the same light of Christ in our own lives, by sharing them through our words, actions and deeds. Let our words bring hope and encouragement, not hatred, division and scorn. Let our actions bring healing and strength to the downtrodden, and not selfishness and haughtiness, and let our deeds bring others to come to know God, our loving Creator, showing His love, care and compassion for each and every one of us, by showing that same love to our fellow men.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Saviour, Ascended in glory to His heavenly Throne and reigning over all, give us the strength and courage to live our lives according to His ways, and may He empower us all to be true Christians in all words and deeds, at all times and circumstances, that we may remain hopeful and true to our faith and look forward to the time of our own glorification at the end of time, sharing in the glory of His Ascension. May God bless us all and our good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 21 May 2020 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 28 : 16-20

At that time, as for the eleven disciples, they went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Jesus, they bowed before Him, although some doubted.

Then Jesus approached them and said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations. Baptise them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am with you always even to the end of the world.”

Thursday, 21 May 2020 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 1 : 17-23

May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of Glory, reveal Himself to you and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know Him. May He enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God.

May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for His saints; may you understand with what extraordinary power He acts in favour of us who believe. He revealed His Almighty power in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and had Him sit at His right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world but in the world to come as well.

Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set Him above all things, as Head of the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all.

Thursday, 21 May 2020 : 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, 21 May 2020 : 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.”