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.”

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.