The Ascension of the Lord

The Ascension of the Lord

Readings:

Acts 1:1–11
Psalm 47:2–3, 6–7, 8–9
Ephesians 1:17–23
Matthew 28:16–20
 

In today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus’ appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus’ saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and He has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.

The truth of this feast shines forth from the Letter to the Hebrews, where we read of the great high priest’s passing through the heavens, the sinless intercessor’s sacrifice on our behalf (see Hebrews 4:14–15).

Indeed, His intercession will lead to the Holy Spirit’s descent in fire upon the Church. Luke spells out that promise in the First Reading for the feast of the Ascension: “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). The Ascension is the preliminary feast that directs the Church’s attention forward to Pentecost. On that day, salvation will be complete; for salvation is not simply expiation for sins (that would be wonder enough), but it is something even greater than that. Expiation is itself a necessary precondition of our adoption as God’s children. To live that divine life we must receive the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit we must be purified through Baptism.

The Responsorial Psalm presents the Ascension in terms familiar from the worship of the Jerusalem Temple in the days of King Solomon: “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord” (Psalm 47). The priest-king takes his place at the head of the people, ruling over the nations, establishing peace.

The Epistle strikes a distinctively Paschal note. In the early Church, as today, Easter was the normal time for the baptism of adult converts. The sacrament was often called “illumination” or “enlightenment” because of the light that came with God’s saving grace (see, for example, Hebrews 10:32). Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians, speaks in terms of glory that leads to greater glories still, as Ascension leads to Pentecost: “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,” he writes, as he looks to the divinization of the believers. Their “hope” is “his inheritance among the holy ones,” the saints who have been adopted into God’s family and now rule with Him at the Father’s right hand.

This is the “good news” the Apostles are commissioned to spread—to the whole world, to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem—at the Ascension. It’s the good news we must spread today.

Dr. Scott Hahn, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

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As the Diocese of Columbus reorients itself towards evangelization, the Diocese is beginning to invest more time and resources into a diocesan-wide social media presence.  As this is now beginning to grow, the Vocations Office will no longer need to carry the message in social media as the Vocations Office.  The new Social Media Department of the Diocese will have the mission of spreading the Gospel through social media and will be the avenue by which the Vocations Office works to promote a culture of vocations.  As the Vocations Office we will still continue our information website, www.seekholiness.com.  This site will be going through an exciting transformation over the next several months as the Diocese moves to a new platform.  We will also begin running our vocations-oriented messages, event announcements, and news through the diocesan social media platform.  Because of this, Face Forward’s time will be coming to a close at the end of this month.  We thank all of those who have been a part of this important work in the life of the local Church. We look forward with excitement to the spread of the Gospel and the cultivation of a culture of vocations as we enter this new phase in the life of the Diocese of Columbus.  Please continue to follow along with us through our seekholiness.com site and through the Diocese of Columbus Social Media platform.


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In Christ,
Fr. William Hahn