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Sunday of Ascension


First Reading

Acts 1,1-11

In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. While at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. 'It is', he had said, 'what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but, not many days from now, you are going to be baptised with the Holy Spirit.' Now having met together, they asked him, 'Lord, has the time come for you to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He replied, 'It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to earth's remotest end.' 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.'

Psalmody

Psalm 46

Antiphon

Shout to God with the voice of joy.

All peoples, clap your hands,
cry to God with shouts of joy!

For the Lord, the Most High, we must fear,
great king over all the earth.

He subdues peoples under us
and nations under our feet.

Our inheritance, our glory, is from him,
given to Jacob out of love.

God goes up with shouts of joy;
the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.

Sing praise for God, sing praise,
sing praise to our king, sing praise.

God is king of all the earth,
Sing praise with all your skill.

God is king over the nations;
God reigns on his holy throne.

The princes of the peoples are assembled
with the people of Abraham's God.

The rulers of the earth belong to God,
to God who reigns over all.

Second Reading

Ephesians 4,1-13

I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to lead a life worthy of the vocation to which you were called. With all humility and gentleness, and with patience, support each other in love. Take every care to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, over all, through all and within all. On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ allotted it. That is why it says: He went up to the heights, took captives, he gave gifts to humanity. When it says, 'he went up', it must mean that he had gone down to the deepest levels of the earth. The one who went down is none other than the one who went up above all the heavens to fill all things. And to some, his 'gift' was that they should be apostles; to some prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; to knit God's holy people together for the work of service to build up the Body of Christ, until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God and form the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 16,15-20

And he said to them, 'Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.' And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven; there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

The feast of the Ascension gives us a glimmer of the common destiny of the human family and of creation. First of all, it is evident that human history does not end in a vacuum, it has a "human" future, that of the risen Jesus who brought human beings with him into God's heaven. We could say that with the entrance into heaven Jesus inaugurated the eternal dwelling place that God has prepared for his children. Speaking in a language similar to that of revelation of the "new" heavens, the "new earth" and the Jerusalem of heaven, Jesus inaugurated it with his entrance. As he had said to the disciples before dying, Jesus entered to prepare a place for everyone, so that we may be where he is. Jesus has already been reached by his mother, Mary, who was also assumed with her body. This feast takes us away from a story without orientation, without an end, victims of chance and of the stars, or of dark and uncontrollable forces.
In the Gospel Jesus asks us to be witnesses of this mystery of salvation of all peoples. There is an anxiety of universality in the heart of every disciple of Jesus: we are universal brothers and sisters, citizens of the world, family members of all. The disciple speaks the new language, the language of heaven, the language of love that touches and changes hearts; that language drives out demons, that is, thoughts of loneliness, habits of revenge, hatred, division, and enmity. We are not asked to be perfect men and women to communicate the Gospel. The Lord has chosen us as forgiven sinners enabled to communicate the Gospel of love. This is the way to ascend to heaven. Those who scrutinize the heavens (I am thinking of horoscopes...) in search of signs of protection to escape the fear and insecurity of life are a bit sad. Our heaven and our security are the Lord who ascended. He attracts us to the future that he has already fully reached. He gives the disciples of all times the power to push history and creation towards this common destination. Disciples, in fact, have the power to cast out demons and speak the new language of love; they can neutralize tempting snakes and overcome the poisonous snares of life; they can heal the sick and comfort anyone in need of consolation. This is the force that sustains and guides the disciples to the ends of the earth and to the future of history. The Gospel of Mark concludes: "They went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them."