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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 1,9-11

As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight.

They were still staring into the sky as he went, when suddenly two men in white were standing beside them,

and they said, 'Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you have seen him go to heaven.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus’ ascension concludes the extraordinary event of resurrection. Luke had already spoken of Jesus’ ascension to heaven at the conclusion of his first logos. Now he speaks again about it, saying that it happened between Jesus’ resurrection, on the third day, and Pentecost, that is the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first community that occurred on the fiftieth day. In this way Luke wants to connect Easter with Pentecost to say that there is continuity between Jesus and the Church: the ‘acts’ of the Apostles - and of the Christian community of every time - develop by following "all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven" (1-2). The work of that Teacher did not end; rather, it continues in human history through the work of his disciples. Luke notes that the disciples listened attentively to Jesus and did not turn their eyes from him, as it had happened many times in the past three years. Maybe they perceived that the moment of his departure had come, and they "watched" him (the text speaks of fixed eyes) as if they wanted to capture for the last time his eyes in their memories in order not to forget them anymore. And yet, Jesus’ ascension to heaven did not mean simply that he was going away; indeed it was the moment that Jesus entered the very heart of the world and that heaven surrounded the earth with the strength of the resurrection. We could say that as the heaven envelops the earth, Jesus now envelops the entire world in all its dimensions. Jesus is no longer just present in Jerusalem; rather, he is in every part of the earth, he is close to every man and every woman who welcomes him. In the end, the ascension brings Jesus to the right hand of the Father, and thus closer to everyone. And it is as the risen one that he is close to the people of every age, as the one who has defeated evil and death. Jesus is everywhere and he wants to make us rise to new life. This is what the "two men in white robes" mean when they speak to the disciples who keep their eyes gazing at heaven. There is an analogy with the angels of the resurrection who exhort the women and the disciples not to look for Jesus among the dead. Now the two men interpret the mystery of Jesus’ ascension and exhort the disciples to live the mission Jesus had entrusted to them. May be they see sadness in the disciples’ eyes and tell them: "Why do you stand looking up towards heaven?" It is as if to tell them not to be afraid: Jesus did not disappear; he will come back among them. In sum, they should not remain stuck in their habits even the holy ones of their past lives. A new time, a new mission was starting. It was necessary to welcome the eyes of the lord who was looking at the entire world from heaven, to all of humanity and peoples, especially those who needed more mercy and help. The disciples have to ‘ascend,’ too, from their narrow horizons and welcome the universal gaze of heaven that envelops the whole earth. Let us listen to those two angels too - that is the preaching of the scriptures that continually is addressed to us- as it reminds us that Jesus will come back in the same way. That is to say that Christians should be living like Jesus, and not in another manner that is more complacent and less demanding. The Gospel once more calls us not to turn our eyes from Jesus. This is why, as Luke says in the narration of the Ascension in the Gospel, the disciples "returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (Lk 24:52).

Memory of the Mother of the Lord