• Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

The Ascension of the Lord

“The Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His seat at the right hand of God.”

At the Vigil Mass:

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 68(67):33, 35 — “You kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; praise the Lord, who ascends above the highest heavens; His majesty and might are in the skies, alleluia.”

First Reading: Acts 1:1-11 — “As the Apostles were looking on, Jesus was lifted up.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9 — “God mounts His throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.”

Second Reading: Eph 4:1-13 — “To the extent fo the full stature of Christ.”

Alleluia: Mt 28:19a, 20b — Alleluia, alleluia. “Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Mk 16:15-20 — “The Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His seat at the right hand of God.”

Communion Antiphon: Heb 10:12 — “Christ, offering a single sacrifice for sins, is seated for ever at God’s right hand, alleluia.”

At the Mass during the Day:

Entrance Antiphon: Acts 1:11 — “Men of Galilee, why gaze in wonder at the heavens? This Jesus whom you saw ascending into heaven will return as you saw Him go, alleluia.”

Communion Antiphon: Mt 28:20 — “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age, alleluia.”

I would venture to say that all of us have watched, and been intrigued by, the hawkers of television infomercials. They unabashedly exaggerate the benefits of their products. They do their best to convince us that we really can’t live another day without the gadget they’re selling, usually for only $19.99, along with three other items thrown in for free. They are not at all reluctant to proclaim that their product is the best news since sliced bread. Wouldn’t it be great if we Christians would proclaim our best news – the Good News of the Gospel – with such gusto and enthusiasm?

The message of the Feast of the Ascension is: Jesus is gone, the work of spreading His life-giving message is now in our hands, and we also have the powerful help of Jesus’ Spirit.

We are being told in no uncertain terms to get on with it! How many times have we heard or given that advice, when it seems there is a job that needs to get done – such as homework, cleaning the garage, carrying out the garbage, or mowing the lawn – and it is not receiving the attention that it should?

Today, we hear of Christ’s last appearance to His disciples, commissioning them to go into the whole world, to proclaim the Good News, to baptize, to teach, to make disciples, and to carry on the work that He has begun.

And the disciples’ response? They stand there, staring up at the sky like stunned deer caught in the headlights, until the two men in white appear and give them the Get on with it! message. The two men’s advice to the disciples is advice to every one of us as well. The world is waiting. We’ve heard the Good News, now is our time to spread it. Get on with it!

If individuals and our society are searching for spiritual nourishment, it’s because they haven’t heard the Good News. Unfortunately, too many of us have not accepted Christ’s final commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole of creation. If we who call ourselves Christians proclaim belief in the Gospel of Jesus, the Good News, how is it that such a life-giving message is so often handled with such lethargy … rather than with the enthusiasm and passion of those infomercial hawkers? Why is it often simply left to Priests, Deacons, and Religious, when each one of us, by virtue of our Baptism, is called to do it as well?

It is tempting on this Feast of the Ascension to experience it the way the disciples did, to gaze into the sky and to be awed by the miracle of the moment. But Christ’s words to His disciples are words to all of us. Go! The world will not be converted on a mountaintop or inside a church. The message will not be spread in the clouds. It will happen in cities and countrysides, in the streets and in public arenas, in private homes, in books and newspapers, and all means of modern media ... websites and social media. Bottom line ... the message needs to be lived in the world ... you need to walk the talk.

Sooner or later, we all have to go and make disciples of all nations. So, don’t stay too long on the mountain. The reign of God is waiting to be spread. Sooner or later, we must turn our eyes from the clouds, and direct them to the earth, and walk courageously back into the world. Sooner or later, we have to realize that it is not enough that we be good Christians. It is essential to our baptismal call to discipleship that we actually help spread the Good News both in our lives and in our actions. The Spirit of Jesus tells us: “Get on with it.”

We are most Christian when we live and proclaim Christ’s message. This means not only living by Christian principles, but by proclaiming passionately what an impact the Gospel is having in our lives. Get with it! Go! Spread the Good News.

As we prepare to celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist, let's resolve to live the message of today’s Solemnity. Jesus is with us through His Spirit to help us spread His life-giving message, not just among ourselves, but out there beyond the church doors as well.

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