Happy Memorial Day! Happy Feast of Ascension of our Lord!!
This weekend we are celebrating the Ascension of Our Lord. God the Father sends his son, who lived thirty years of silent life, and three years did the public ministry. Then he suffered, was crucified, died, and was resurrected. The empty tomb and the many appearances of the Risen Lord proclaimed the truth of the Resurrection. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives an account of the event of the Ascension of the Lord. In the first part of the reading, Jesus gives instruction, and in the second part the Ascension of our Lord. In the Bible the number forty represents a period of preparation. In the book of Genesis (7:4) the days and nights of the great flood, Moses was on the mountain for forty days to receive the Ten Commandments, and Jesus himself was in the wilderness for forty days in fasting prior to the public ministry.
Forty days between Easter and Ascension is a period of final instruction. Jesus prepared the apostles for the mission and asked them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. These forty days were not only for the Apostles but also for many who received the opportunity to personally experience Jesus’ Resurrection and his being alive in a glorified body. Paul writes in the first 1 Corinthians 15:6, “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
The Gospel (Luke 24:46-53) echoes the first reading (Acts 1:1-11). Luke is the author of both. Acts 1:9 and Mark 16:19 says, the Ascension of the Lord culminates with his heavenly enthronement at the right hand of the Father. The Ascension took place on Mount Olive. In the Acts, we read, “A cloud took him from their sight.” In the Bible, the cloud represents the divine presence. We can see references in the Book of Exodus 13:21; Isaiah 63:11; Daniel 7:13. In Acts 7:55 Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Jesus departed from them, but at the same time, he pledged his future return. The same cloud that took him away will bring him back to retrieve the saints destined for glory (1Thessalonians 4:14-17). Daniel 7:13, tells about his vision, “I saw coming with the clouds of heaven. One like a son of man…” In the Gospel of Matthew 26:24, Jesus had told the high priest, “From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.” Christ’s kingdom began with his coming, is now present in the Church, and will reach its fulfillment when he returns in glory. Jesus entrusted the Church to the Apostles and asked them to continue the mission with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Today, we are the church, called to continue the mission of Christ. We received the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and through the laying of hands at Confirmation the Holy Spirit activated in a new and profound way. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit renews our life in a new and profound way as we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord and prepare ourselves to celebrate Pentecost.
Jesus asked apostles to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit. They spent time in prayer with Mary in the upper room. This was the first Novena in the Church. Our cluster will pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit from May 27 - June 4th. You can join online or in person or you can pick up a booklet and pray at home. If you couldn’t start on May 27, still you can join and make up the days you missed. Let us remain in prayer from Ascension of the Lord to the Pentecost. The same weekend we will be celebrating the Feast of St. Anthony and 100 Anniversary of the St. Anthony School and the old church building. Let us ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This weekend we also celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Let us hold them in our prayers. At the same time let us remember all those who are serving to keep us safe.
Happy Memorial Day!!