The celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord occurs on the 40th day after Easter (May 10th this year). The Church allows for the Diocese of Madison and others to transfer the celebration to the following Sunday (May 13th this year). In a homily to commemorate the Ascension of Our Lord, Pope Saint Leo the Great (400-461 A.D.) said: “Today we are not only made possessors of Paradise, but with Jesus Christ we have ascended, mystically but also really, to Heaven, and have won through Christ a grace more wonderful than the one we had lost.” The Ascension of Jesus strengthens and nourishes our hope of attaining Heaven (Father Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God) – it invites us always to lift up our hearts, as we state in the preface of the Mass, and seek the things that are above, to have great hope because Christ Himself has gone to prepare an eternal dwelling place of love and joy for us (John 14:1-6; Luke 24:46-53).
Jesus is in Heaven in His glorified Body, with the signs of His redemptive sacrifice, the marks of His Passion (Revelation 5:6) – marks that Thomas could see and touch, marks that bring about our salvation. Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death and awaits us in Heaven, for we are “citizens of Heaven” (Philippians 3:20) – and at the same time we’re citizens of this earth, in the midst of difficulties, challenges and sorrows, but also in the midst of joy and serenity that comes from knowing that we are children of God. Along the way, let us seek the consoling help of Jesus’ Mother, Mary, as the Apostles did… “They returned to Jerusalem… and they prayed with one mind… together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus” (Acts 1-2; Saint Josemaría Escrivá, Christ is Passing By, #126).
The hope of Heaven should fill our days with joy! Jesus ascends and He also wills to remain close to each of us (Matthew 28:16-20): in prayer, in His Church, Word and Sacraments; by virtue of our baptism, the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, dwells in us; in the Holy Eucharist, He is substantially present in every Catholic parish tabernacle (25 of our young people made their First Holy Communion this year; please pray for them as they grow in their love for Jesus Christ and His Church). May we go to Jesus by going to church to pray – and when we’re at work, school or home, we can go to Him with our heart and mind by picturing the tabernacle at church and asking Him to help us in our daily duties. May we also make Him known to others by witnessing to His teaching, His love, mercy and peace, in our words and deeds. As we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (May 20th this year), may we be one in prayer to God, praying with the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, striving by God’s grace to live the virtues of faith, hope and love, with great joy. And, on this Mother’s Day weekend, let us pray with heartfelt thanksgiving to God for all our moms, living and deceased.
With peace and prayers in Christ,