When I was a little child and saw the pictures or Jesus rising into the sky, I felt kind of sad. Jesus was way up in the sky somewhere enjoying life. My teacher didn’t say much about the cloud or the history of the chosen people. Or maybe I wasn’t listening.
When I prayed, I would look up in the sky and if no one was around, I could shout my lungs out in prayer. Fortunately, I had other religion and I knew that I had a guardian angel and that Mary by some mysterious means was my mother and always with me.
It was only in later years, that I discovered the riches and nourishment found in Jesus’ Ascension.
I wish you were all were Protestants. You would have your bible with you this Sunday morning.. I would tell you to open your bible to Luke 24: 46-53 and also to Acts of the Apostles 1: 1-11. Acts was also written by Luke. Both speak of Jesus’ Ascension. However, these two readings are in your Sunday missalette. Please, open them.
Luke begins his gospel in the temple. He will end his gospel also in a new temple. In the beginning of Luke’s gospel, Zachary, a priest, goes into the holiest part of the temple to make solemn sacrifice to God. As a high priest, Zachary was a bridge between God and his people. As a priest, Zachary did two things. First, he brought the gifts of the people to God. These gifts were loving signs to show that all that the people had came from God – including their lives. Zachary brought God’s gifts to his people by blessing them. That’s what blessing means. We ask God to give his special gifts to this person. And secondly, the people, in turn, asked the high priest to present their most precious gifts to God. These gifts showed how much they loved God and were willing to give God everything even their lives.
In today’s reading, we witness the last scene of Jesus’ physical presence on earth. It ends just as it began in Luke’s gospel with the words and actions of a high priest. St. Luke shows us that Jesus is our high priest and his temple is this world.
Luke began with Zechariah in the temple offering prayer and sacrifice to God. Three things happened when once a year the high priest entered the “holies of holies”. , The people waited outside praising God—kneeling down. Then the high priest blessed the people. These blessings showed that he brought God’s gifts to the people. The high priest brought the people’s praise and petitions to God. And thirdly, the high priest entered the “Holy of Holies in the very presence of God.
By ending his gospel with these three verses, Luke explains what happened when Jesus appeared for the last time in visible and physical form to his apostles.
“Then he led them out near Bethany…”(Luke 24: 50-NAB)
Jesus doesn’t do his priestly work in a temple but outside among the people. From now on Jesus’ temple will be the world.
“With hands raised, [Jesus] blessed them.”(24: 51)
Jesus “blessed them”. He brought God’s gifts not only to his own people but also to the world. And Jesus gave the same mission to his apostles and us! TO BLESS!
“He left them, and was taken up to heaven.” (24: 51)
In Jewish history, this cloud always represented the presence of God. The cloud led them out of Egypt, in their desert wanderings and into the Promised Land. Later the Jerusalem temple and the “Holies of Holies” became the symbol of God’s presence among the Jewish people. Jesus now sat at the right hand of the Father showing that Jesus is both divine and human and is equal to the Father. That is what sitting on God’s right hand means. Jesus entered the Cloud. Just as the Father is present everywhere, Jesus is likewise present, no longer in the temple in Jerusalem but throughout the world.
In the garden of Olives, the apostles lay down but they slept. But now:
“They [apostles) fell down [not to sleep] to do him reverence…” (24: 52)
Nor was this a time for a sad going-away party.
“Then they returned to Jerusalem filled with joy.” (24:
In Jerusalem, the apostles prayed and praised God. They were happy that Jesus with them—more real to them since he could be closer to each of them through their eyes of Faith. Jesus came to them in prayer, in their daily lives and especially in the Holy Eucharist.
“… were found in the temple constantly, speaking the praises of God.” (24: 53)
During this time of prayer, the apostles prepared for the coming of the Holy Spirit in twelve days. The Holy Spirit who give them the guidance, the wisdom, the courage and strength to begin their work of informing all the world, that Jesus had died, Jesus had risen and that the entire world was the temple of God.
Today’s short scripture passage Luke 24 46-53 gives us much to think about during the coming week,
After your Baptism we have already received the power of the Holy Spirit. You are aware that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are already present with you. The Holy Spirit at our Baptism has already commissioned us to be Jesus’ witnesses even to the ends of the earth.
During the coming week, like Jesus and the apostles, we bless the people we meet in stores, on the buses, in the neighborhood. We bless the people we don’t like. We ask God to give them many gifts. You offer them to God. At appropriate times with the help of the Holy Spirit, you will introduce them to Jesus who has died, Risen and remains with us.
WORD COUNT: 1,030 words.
TOPIC SENTENCE: The mystery of Jesus’ ascension is rich with significance both in the Old Testament as well as in the present.
DESIRED RESULT: Father as a result of the Sunday’s gospel and homily, I was conscious of my call to be a priest and to bless the people I met.
CHURCH TEACHING: “Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co. 1994) #659 p., 172.
Thierry Maertens & Jean Frisque, Guide to the Christian Assembly Eastertime (Notre Dame, Indiana, Fides Publisher, 1972) pp. 138-140.
(Holy Cards are given to the person who puts up a hand and answers correctly. There is just the question and one or two word answers. Phrase the questions sharply. No explanations please, homilist. If no one answers correctly, you screwed up. This should be a fun thing!)
1. After the Ascension, where does Jesus live? With us.
2. Who are the apostles waiting for in these twelve days? Holy Spirit.
3. What do the apostles need from the Holy Spirit? Wisdom/courage/or
4. What did the apostles do and what do we at St. Patrick’s do while awaiting the gifts? Pray constantly/or speak the praises of God/or bless people we meet. (Any one answer is correct.)
May 23, 2004 Ascension (Yr. C) Sunday Luke 24: 46-53
1. What did the “cloud” mean in the Old Testament? _______________________________________________________
(Readers: does anyone know how to get rid of the heavy black line in Microsoft Word. Ed. [email protected]