The Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

1st Reading - Acts 1: 1-11

Responsorial Psalm - 47: 2-3, 6-7, 8-9

2nd Reading - Ephesians 1: 17-23

Gospel - Luke 24: 46-53 

The Ascension of the Lord is when Jesus was elevated body and soul into heaven.  Jesus ascends to heavenly glory once and for all. Some of the symbols of The Ascension are:

Elijah’s fiery chariot………….broken chain……………open gates………clouds…….

……palms of victory………..birds flying homeward…….fishnet……ball and cross

The gospels of Mark and Luke and the Acts of the Apostles report the mystery of the Lord’s Ascension.  This is the event that closes the period of the Easter appearances.

If you were to read Luke’s gospel solely, it might seem as though Jesus ascended into heaven on the very day of the resurrection, but if we read the entire story and the further details in the Acts of the Apostles (which was the completion of his gospel) we understand that it did not occur on the same day.  For Luke, the Ascension is essential in relation to the events still to take place: the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the interval time before the day of the Second Coming.  Luke says in the Acts of the Apostles that this period, just before the Ascension, took 40 days which would suggest it was very sacred.  God had something to do with it.  The number 40 is in reference to other holy events. 

  • 40 days and 40 nights on the Ark

  • 40 years wandering in the wilderness

  • 40 days of Jesus’ fast in the desert 

This number also represents a sufficient amount of time to accomplish something.

The first “meaning” of the Ascension is that Christ, in his human nature, passes to the state of glory with His Father and the Holy Spirit.  The risen One enters the heavenly intimacy with God.  It is the concluding moment of the mystery of the Incarnation.  It is as though in the Incarnation, he laid aside His divine glory and in the Ascension, He receives it back again.

The second meaning of the Ascension is the beginning of the kingdom of the Messiah.  In the book of Daniel, there was a prophetic vision regarding the Son of Man. 

"To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and his kingdom on that shall not be destroyed."

Jesus Christ is Lord because He possesses the fullness of power in heaven and earth.  And, He is the Lord of eternal life.  The Ascension of the Lord taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is summarized with these words:

“Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence He will come again; this humanity in the meantime hides Him from the eyes of men.  Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of His Body, may live in the hope of one day being with Him forever.

Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven, once and for all intercedes continually for us as the mediator who assures us the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

The Ascension does not end the story of Jesus.  Pentecost completes His work with the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Not that that totally completes the story either.  The story of salvation goes on until the end of time, for we are now His Body in the world. 

For today, just remember; The last gesture the scriptures record Jesus making as He was ascending into heaven was one of blessing.  He raised His hands, and He blessed them.  It wasn’t a farewell wave, but a raised hand calling for God’s protection on these disciples and all who would follow them.

Reflection Questions:  

  1. Name an event, a person or a relationship that led you to believe that knowing Jesus Christ was good news for you in your life. Be specific.

  2. What does it mean for you in your life that Jesus is good news?  Give a concrete example of how Jesus has been good news for you in your life.

  3. By your words and deeds, how does your life show Jesus to others?

 Click here to view original handout from the RCIA Catechumenate session.