Ascension of the Lord (Holy Day of Obligation), 21 May 2020
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Liturgical Colour: White.
First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
Responsorial: Psalms 47:2-3, 6-9
2nd Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23 &
Gospel: Luke 24:46-53, Gospel Video.
Luke Chapter 24 (video)
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Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
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Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
1. Jesus speaks these words before his Ascension into heaven. With them he outlines for his Church her future programme, her mission, and calls those who have been his witnesses to carry it out.
First of all, the Apostles who had “seen” the events of the Passion: they had been overcome with fear when he was crucified, and later rejoiced at his Resurrection. In the paschal mystery, Christ thus expresses the whole truth of his divine sonship and his messianic mission. On the road to Emmaus, he explains to the two disciples that the Messiah had to bear all these things in order to enter into the Father’s glory (cf. Luke 24:26). Now, at the moment when he is leaving the world to return to heaven, he asks “his” followers to bear witness to these events in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
The teaching they must spread is not an abstract system of ideas, but the Word about a living reality. And it is precisely by virtue of this Word that the Church will spread throughout the world.
This Word, taken beyond the borders of Palestine by the first witnesses, has given rise to countless throngs of other witnesses in every corner of the globe, most of whose names we do not know; but the Church retains a vivid memory of others. This is the case, for example, of those who are proclaimed blessed here in Turin today: Teresa Bracco, Giovanni Maria Boccardo and Teresa Grillo Michel.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 24 May 1998)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-240. 8-)
1. "God mounts his throne to shouts of joy" (Responsorial Psalm, Response). These words of today's liturgy lead us into the Solemnity of the Ascension. We relive the moment when Christ returns to the Father, after completing his earthly mission. This feast is the culmination of Christ's glorification at Easter. It is also the immediate preparation for the gift of the Holy Spirit who will come at Pentecost. The Ascension of the Lord should not therefore be taken as an isolated episode but as an integral part of the Easter Mystery.
Indeed the risen Jesus does not leave his disciples definitively; rather, he begins a new kind of relationship with them. If, from the physical and earthly viewpoint, he is no longer present, his invisible presence is nonetheless intensified, reaching a depth and breadth that are absolutely new.
Through the action of the promised Holy Spirit, Jesus was to be present where he had taught his disciples to recognize him: in the Church, the community of all who were to believe in him, called to carry out a never-ending evangelizing mission down the ages in the Gospel, and the sacraments.
3. Today's liturgy urges us to look up into Heaven as the Apostles did at the moment of the Ascension, to be then credible witnesses of the Risen One on earth (cf. Acts 1,11), collaborating with him in extending the Kingdom of God among men. We are also invited to meditate on the mandate which Jesus, before ascending into Heaven, entrusts to the disciples: to preach conversion and the forgiveness of sins to all the nations (cf. Luke 24,47). This mandate prompts us to reflect on all that our Diocese, through the experiences of the Diocesan Synod and the City Mission, as well as the events which have taken place during the recent Jubilee, is seeking to carry out in a way that is faithful to Christ, so as to have an incisive effect on society and contemporary culture.
6. "I [will] send the promise of my Father upon you" (Luke 24,49). Here Jesus is speaking of his Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Like the disciples, we too are preparing to receive this gift on the solemnity of Pentecost. It is the mysterious action of the Spirit which alone can make us new creatures; alone his mysterious power puts us in the condition of proclaiming God's wonders. We should not fear, therefore; do not let us withdraw into ourselves! Rather, let us readily and willingly collaborate with him so that the salvation offered by God to each person in Christ many lead all humanity to the Father.
Let us wait with Mary for the descent of the Paraclete, like the disciples in the Upper Room. As I arrived at your church I saw a pillar bearing Our Lady's image, with the words, "Do not pass this place without greeting Mary". Let us always follow this advice. May Mary to whom we trustfully turn, especially in this month of May, help us to be worthy disciples of her Son and make us his courageous witnesses in the world. As Queen of our hearts, may she make of all believers one family, united in love and peace.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 27 May 2001)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-421. 8-)
See our compilation with Pictures in Encouragements-422. 8-)
Dear brothers and sisters, I have taken as the motto of my pilgrimage to Poland in the footsteps of John Paul II the words: “Stand firm in your faith!” This appeal is directed to us all as members of the community of Christ’s disciples, to each and every one of us. Faith is a deeply personal and human act, an act which has two aspects. To believe means first to accept as true what our mind cannot fully comprehend. We have to accept what God reveals to us about himself, about ourselves, about everything around us, including the things that are invisible, inexpressible and beyond our imagination. This act of accepting revealed truth broadens the horizon of our knowledge and draws us to the mystery in which our lives are immersed. Letting our reason be limited in this way is not something easy to do. Here we see the second aspect of faith: it is trust in a person, no ordinary person, but Jesus Christ himself. What we believe is important, but even more important is the One in whom we believe.
Saint Paul speaks of this in the passage from the Letter to the Ephesians which we have heard today. God has given us a spirit of wisdom and “enlightened the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great power in Christ” (cf. Ephesians 1:17-20). Believing means surrendering ourselves to God and entrusting our destiny to him. Believing means entering into a personal relationship with our Creator and Redeemer in the power of the Holy Spirit, and making this relationship the basis of our whole life.
Today we heard the words of Jesus: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Centuries ago these words reached Poland. They challenged, and continue to challenge all those who say they belong to Christ, who consider his to be the greatest cause. We need to be witnesses of Jesus, who lives in the Church and in human hearts. He has given us a mission. On the day he ascended to heaven, he said to his Apostles: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation … And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it” (Mark 16:15,20). Dear brothers and sisters! When Karol Wojtyła was elected to the See of Peter in order to serve the universal Church, your land became a place of special witness to faith in Jesus Christ. You were called to give this witness before the whole world. This vocation of yours is always needed, and it is perhaps even more urgent than ever, now that the Servant of God has passed from this life. Do not deprive the world of this witness!
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 28 May 2006)
Forty days after the Resurrection — according to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles — Jesus ascended into Heaven, that is he returned to the Father, by whom he had been sent into the world. In many countries this mystery is celebrated not on Thursday but today, the following Sunday. The Ascension of the Lord marks the fulfillment of salvation that started with the Incarnation. After he had instructed his disciples for the last time, Jesus was taken up into Heaven (cf. Mark 16:19). He, however, “was not separated from our condition” (cf. Preface); indeed, in his humanity, he took man with him into the intimacy of the Father and thus revealed the final destination of our earthly pilgrimage. As he descended from Heaven for us, and for us suffered and died on the Cross, so for us he rose and ascended to God, who, therefore, is no longer far away.
St Leo the Great explains that with this mystery “not only is the immortality of the soul proclaimed, but also that of the body. Today in fact, not only are we confirmed as possessors of paradise, but in Christ have also penetrated the heights of Heaven” (De Ascensione Domini, Tractatus 73, 2.4: CCL 138 A, 451.453). This is why the disciples, when they saw the Master rise from the ground and ascend upwards, they were not disheartened, as one might expect, instead, they were overcome with joy and felt compelled to proclaim Christ’s victory over death (cf. Mark 16:20). And the Risen Lord worked in each of them, bestowing on each his own charism. St Paul writes further: “He gave gifts to men ... and his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers ... for building up of the body of Christ ... to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:8, 11-13).
Dear friends, the Ascension tells us that in Christ our humanity is brought to the heights of God; thus, every time we pray, earth is united to Heaven. And like incense, burning, its scent is carried on high, hence, when we raise our prayer to the Lord with confidence in Christ, it travels across Heaven and reaches God himself and is heard and answered by Him. In the well-known work by St John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, we read that “in order to obtain the fulfilment of the petitions which we have in our hearts, there is no better way than to direct the energy of our prayer to the thing that most pleases God. For then not only will He give that which we ask of Him, which is salvation, but also that which He sees to be fitting and good for us, although we pray not for it” (Book III, ch. 44, n. 2).
Finally let us beseech the Virgin Mary, that she may help us to contemplate the heavenly goods, which the Lord promises us, and to become ever more credible witnesses of his Resurrection, of true Life.
Pope Benedict XVI (Regina Caeli, 20 May 2012)
Today, in Italy and in other Countries, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, 40 days after Easter. The Acts of the Apostles recounts this episode, the final separation of the Lord Jesus from his disciples and from this world (cf. Acts 1:2-9). The Gospel of Matthew, however, reports Jesus’ mandate to his disciples: the invitation to go out, to set out in order to proclaim to all nations his message of salvation (cf. Matthew 28:16-20). “To go” or, better, “depart” becomes the key word of today’s feast: Jesus departs to the Father and commands his disciples to depart for the world.
Jesus departs, he ascends to Heaven, that is, he returns to the Father from whom he had been sent to the world. He finished his work, thus, he returns to the Father. But this does not mean a separation, for he remains forever with us, in a new way. By his ascension, the Risen Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles — and our gaze — to the heights of Heaven to show us that the end of our journey is the Father. He himself said that he would go to prepare a place for us in Heaven. Yet, Jesus remains present and active in the affairs of human history through the power and the gifts of his Spirit; he is beside each of us: even if we do not see him with our eyes, He is there! He accompanies us, he guides us, he takes us by the hand and he lifts us up when we fall down. The risen Jesus is close to persecuted and discriminated Christians; he is close to every man and woman who suffers. He is close to us all; he is here, too, with us in the square; the Lord is with us! Do you believe this? Then let’s say it together: the Lord is with us!
Pope Francis I (Regina Caeli, 1 June 2014)
In this heaven lives that God who revealed himself so closely as to take on the face of a man, Jesus of Nazareth. He remains for us always the God-with-us — let us remember this: Emmanuel, God with us — and he never leaves us alone! We can look to heaven in order to recognize our future before us. In the Ascension of Jesus, Crucified and Risen, there is the promise of our participation in the fullness of life with God.
Before departing from his friends, Jesus, referring to the event of his death and Resurrection, said to them: “You are witnesses of these things” (v. 48). In other words the disciples, the Apostles, were witnesses of the death and Resurrection of Christ, on that day, also of the Ascension of Christ. In fact, after seeing their Lord ascend into heaven, the disciples returned to the city as witnesses joyfully proclaiming to all the new life which comes from the Crucified and Risen One, in whose name “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached to all nations” (cf. v. 47). This is the witness — born not only with words but with everyday life — the witness that every Sunday should flow from our churches so as to enter during the week into homes, offices, schools, meeting and recreational places, hospitals, prisons, homes for the elderly, in places crowded with immigrants, in the peripheries of the city.... We must bear this witness every week: Christ is with us: Jesus rose to heaven, he is with us: Christ lives!
Jesus assured us that in this proclamation and in this witness we shall be “clothed with power from on high” (v. 49), that is, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Here is the secret to this mission: the presence among us of the Risen Lord, who with the gift of the Holy Spirit, continues to open our minds and our hearts, to proclaim his love and his mercy even in the most resistant areas of our cities. The Holy Spirit is the true artisan of the multiform witness that the Church and every baptized person renders in the world. Therefore, we must never neglect to meditate in prayer in order to praise God and invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit. This week, which leads us to the Feast of Pentecost, let us remain spiritually in the Upper Room, together with the Virgin Mary, to receive the Holy Spirit. Let us do so now too, in communion with the faithful gathered in the Shrine of Pompeii for the traditional Supplication.
Pope Francis I (Regina Caeli, 8 May 2016)
We have heard what Jesus tells the disciples before his Ascension: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18); the power of Jesus, the strength of God. This theme runs through today’s readings: in the first, Jesus says that it is not up to the disciples to know the “times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority”, but he promises them the “power” of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:7-8). In the second, Saint Paul speaks about the “immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe” and of the “working of his great might” (Ephesians 1:19). But in what does this strength, this power of God consist?
Jesus declares that there is a power “in heaven and on earth”. It is, first and foremost, the power to connect heaven and earth. Today we celebrate this mystery because when Jesus ascended to the Father, our human flesh crossed the threshold of heaven: our humanity is there, in God, forever. Therein lies our trust, because God will never distance himself from mankind. And we are consoled in the knowledge that in God, with Jesus, a place has been prepared for each of us: a destiny as risen children awaits us and for this, it is truly worth the while of living here below, seeking the things from above, where our Lord is found (cf. Colossians 3:1-2). This is what Jesus did for us through his power to connect earth to heaven.
But his power did not end once he ascended into heaven. It continues even today and it endures forever. In fact, just before ascending to the Father, Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20). It is not just a saying, a simple reassurance like when we tell our friends before leaving for a long trip: “I will be thinking of you”. No. Jesus is truly with us and for us. In heaven, he shows the Father his humanity, our humanity. He shows the Father his wounds, the price he paid for us, and thus, he “always lives to make intercessions” (Hebrews 7:25) on our behalf. This is the key word of the power of Jesus: intercession. Jesus, with the Father, intercedes on our behalf every day, in every moment; in every prayer, in each of our requests for forgiveness, especially in every Mass. Jesus intervenes: he shows the Father the signs of the life he offered — as I have said — his wounds, and he intercedes, obtaining mercy for us. He is our “advocate” (cf. John 2:1), and when we have some important “cause”, we would do well to entrust it to him and to say, “Lord Jesus, intercede for me, intercede for us, intercede for that person, intercede for that situation...”.
Pope Francis I (Homily, 27 May 2017)
Jesus’ Ascension into heaven thus constitutes the end of the mission that the Son received from the Father and the beginning of the continuation of this mission on the part of the Church. From this moment, from the moment of the Ascension, in fact, Christ’s presence in the world is mediated by his disciples, by those who believe in him and proclaim him. This mission will last until the end of history and every day will have the assistance of the Risen Lord, who assures: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
His presence brings strength during persecution, comfort in tribulations, support in the difficult situations that the mission and the proclamation of the Gospel will encounter. The Ascension reminds us of Jesus’ assistance and of his Spirit that gives confidence, gives certainty to our Christian witness in the world. He reveals to us the reason for the Church’s existence: the Church exists to proclaim the Gospel, for this alone! So too, the joy of the Church is proclaiming the Gospel. The Church is all of us baptized people. Today we are called to better understand that God has given us the great dignity and responsibility of proclaiming him to the world, of making him accessible to all mankind. This is our dignity; this is the greatest honour of each one of us, of all the baptized!
On this Feast of the Ascension, as we turn our gaze toward heaven, where Christ has ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, we strengthen our steps on earth so as to continue our journey — our mission of witnessing to and living the Gospel in every environment — with enthusiasm and courage. However, we are well aware that this does not depend first and foremost on our strengths, on our organizational abilities or human resources. Only with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit can we effectively fulfil our mission of leading others to know and increasingly experience Jesus’ tenderness.
Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly benefits that the Lord promises us, and to become ever more credible witnesses to his Resurrection, to the true Life.
Pope Francis I (Regina Caeli, 28 May 2017)
It is what we are invited to do in the day’s Gospel passage, in which the event of the Ascension occurs immediately after the mission that Jesus entrusts to the disciples. It is a boundless mission — that is, literally without boundaries — which surpasses human strength. Jesus says, in fact: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). The task which Jesus entrusts to a small group of common men lacking great intellectual capacity seems truly too bold! Yet this small company, insignificant compared to the great powers of the world, is sent to bring the message of Jesus’ love and mercy to every corner of the earth.
But this plan of God can be accomplished only with the strength that God himself grants to the Apostles. In this sense, Jesus assures them that their mission will be supported by the Holy Spirit. And he says this: “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is how this mission was able to be accomplished, and the Apostles began this work which was then continued by their successors. The mission that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles has continued through the centuries, and continues still today: it requires the cooperation of all of us. Each one, in fact, by the power of the Baptism that he or she received, is qualified in turn to proclaim the Gospel. Baptism is precisely what qualifies us and also spurs us to be missionaries, to proclaim the Gospel.
The Lord’s Ascension into heaven, while inaugurating a new form of Jesus’ presence among us, calls us to keep eyes and hearts open to encounter him, to serve him and bear witness to him to others. It is a matter of being men and women of the Ascension, that is, those who seek Christ along the paths of our time, bringing his word of salvation to the ends of the earth. On this journey we encounter Christ himself in our brothers and sisters, especially in the poorest, in those who suffer in their very flesh the harsh and humiliating experience of old and new forms of poverty. As at the beginning the Risen Christ sent his Apostles with the power of the Holy Spirit, so too does he send all of us today, with the same power, so as to establish concrete and visible signs of hope. Because Jesus gives us hope. He went to heaven and opened the gates of heaven and the hope that we will reach it.
May the Virgin Mary who, as Mother of the dead and Risen Lord, enlivened the faith of the first community of disciples, help us too to “lift up our hearts”, as the Liturgy exhorts us to do. And at the same time may she help us to keep our “feet on the ground”, and to bravely sow the Gospel in the practical situations of life and of history.
Pope Francis I (Regina Caeli, 13 May 2018)
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Compiled on 13 May 2018, 26 May 2019
Last updated: 3 May 2019 (4th Sunday of Easter)