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, 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.”