The Ascension of the Lord, 2022

My Dear People, 

Today, Jesus instructs His Disciples about the fulfillment of the Scriptures and next   announces their future missions. First He explains how it was necessary that everything written about Him in the Old Testament come to fulfillment. He opened their minds to understanding  the Scriptures. He also told them they were witnesses to these events; His suffering, death, and resurrection. He explains that repentance, for forgiveness of sins, will be preached in His name. This is their mission now assigned to the Apostles and the other Disciples. Indeed, in Acts, repentance and forgiveness of sins via the name of Jesus will become the core message of the Apostles’ preaching (this is called kerygma). The beginning of the Apostles’ mission in Jerusalem will thus recall the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in Nazareth, as read from Isaiah’s announcement of a Jubilee, which explains why He was sent to proclaim liberty. Now,  Jubilee is being extended in time and space. From Jerusalem, the liberty that is forgiveness will be preached to all nations. The Apostles and Disciples will be witnesses of all these things about Jesus: His words; deeds; life; death; and resurrection. 

One last instruction is they should stay in the city until they are clothed with power from on high, enabling them to carry forward their mission. This power he is sending upon them, which Jesus also describes as the promise of his Father, is the Holy Spirit. (Disciples will receive this at Pentecost.) As Jesus carried out His ministry “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14), so too will His followers be filled with the power of the Spirit to carry out their mission of spreading the gospel. You are witnesses—as the Apostles carried out their mission, “with great power” bearing “witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). 

In addition, all Christians are entrusted with the apostolate in one way or another (Catechism 900). In other words, we are called to be witnesses to Jesus in our lives and thus advance His mission. “Clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49)—the power of the Holy Spirit received through Baptism and Confirmation—we can bear witness to Jesus by our deeds and by our words. This is what the early Christians did, and thus the faith spread quickly (despite persecution), to every part of society. This is what Christians today can and ought to do: joyfully share their faith with family members, friends, and coworkers

Luke’s Gospel concludes with an account of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, in which he elegantly presents Jesus, the Messiah, as a Priest, Prophet, and King. Moreover, as Lord (2:11), Jesus is to be worshipped. Though the timing of the event is not explicit here, Luke indicates in Acts: 1:9-11 that it took place “forty days” after the resurrection  (Acts1:3). 

After giving his final instructions, Jesus led His Disciples [out] of Jerusalem. The Greek word exago (to lead or bring out), which occurs only here in Luke’s Gospel is the verb typically used in the Septuagint. Jesus now completes His exodus from Jerusalem to heaven. Just like the prophet, Elijah, Jesus is taken up to heaven. His followers will then receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 2Kings 2:9,11,15).

Yours in Christ. 

Fr. Vincent Clemente


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