Reflections

ASCENSION THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2020

THE LORD ASCENDS WITH TRUMPET BLAST
1. Absent, Yet Present
2. I Go; Now I Send You

Greeting (see the readings)
Be my witnesses to the ends of the earth,
says the Lord.
Know that I am with you always,
till the end of time.
May the Lord Jesus be always with you. R/ And also with you.

Introduction
1. Absent, Yet Present
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension: the Lord Jesus returns to the glory of the Father. There is an apparent contradiction in this leaving of Jesus: While leaving, he assures us that he is staying with us. These are his last words in Matthew’s gospel, just as Matthew had assured us in his first chapter that Jesus is our God-with-us. Jesus’ going to heaven is really no farewell: He was God-with-us in his life on earth, close to people, especially the poor and the weak. He is now with us, but in another way, through his Spirit, in the Church, for we are his body, in the signs of bread and wine, wherever people meet in his name, as we are doing at this moment, in the poor and the weak of our day too. Our prayer today is: Stay with us, Lord.

2. I Go; Now I Send You
This day of the Lord’s Ascension is for us a feast of joy for we celebrate the Lord Jesus in his glory. He had to leave this earth so as not to be any longer the privileged companion of just a small group of apostles and disciples. Once he was glorified in heaven, he would belong to everyone willing to accept him as their Lord. From now on we, his people, have to be his shape and face, his heartbeat, his helping hand, his smile, his strength that often looks powerless. Don’t be afraid: He has promised to be with us until the end of time, as he is here with us now in this Eucharist.

Penitential Act
Jesus has given us a task to do.
Let us ask forgiveness
that we have not measured up to his expectations
and not relied on his presence.
(pause)
Lord Jesus, you lived among people
and have gone away to the Father’s glory.
You will return,
for your love is without end:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
Jesus Christ, you still live among us
through your Spirit of strength and love,
for your love is without end:
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, we do not see you,
but you have given us people
and a mission of truth and goodness,
for your love is without end:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
Have mercy on us, Lord,
forgive us our sadness and our sins.
Help us to seek the will of the Father
and lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.

Opening Prayer
Let us pray
that the Spirit of the risen Lord
may guide us
(pause)
God our Father,
our risen Lord Jesus Christ
lives now in your presence.
When we keep looking for him in the clouds,
make us turn to the task
he has given us to do here on earth
and learn to recognize his face
in our brothers and sisters.
And when we are too attached to this earth,
remind us that in your own good time
you will complete Jesus’ works in us
and take us to your joy and glory
for ever and ever. R/ Amen.

First Reading: Why Are You Looking into the Sky?
At his ascension, Jesus entrusts his work to the apostles. The Holy Spirit will give them the strength to bear witness to Christ the Lord to the whole world.

1 Reading: Acts 1:1-11
In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Responsorial Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
R. (6) God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.

All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
for the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth. R.

God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise. R.

For king of all the earth is God;
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne. R.

Second Reading: The Glorious Christ is the Head of the church.
Paul writes that Christ is now the glorious Lord who lives in the Church. May we have his Spirit to experience God in our lives and may we, the Church, live the life of Christ.

2 Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Alleluia Matthew 28:29a, 20b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Jesus Leaves Us a Mission
Jesus is gone physically, but he has left us a task: to bring his message of Good News to all. He stays with us in this mission.

Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Commentary
Jesus sent his apostles to evangelize the world.
The last apparition is related in a very simple way: no sudden appearance, no fear—no physical demonstration of the reality of Jesus. What is important are the words of Jesus Master.
Although some doubted (v. 17). With this, Matthew sums up the last apparitions of Jesus. Not all the disciples of Jesus (the Eleven and the rest) believed so quickly in the resurrection of Jesus.
Make disciples of all nations (v. 19). Jesus, following the example of Jewish teachers of his time, gathered around him a group of disciples who lived with him. The teacher knew his disciples and the disciples knew the teacher by sharing everyday life. The same holds true today: evangelization implies interpersonal sharing.
To evangelize means to help someone ponder his former experiences until he can recognize in the person of Christ, in his death and resurrection, the truth that lights up his own life.
Those who believe will be baptized in the one Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (v. 19), the Three Persons Christ taught us about. Of course, he named them separately because the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit; in spite of that, the Three are the same God. Upon entering the Church, the baptized will enter into communion with the Father, with the Son and with the Holy Spirit. The Church is, before anything else, communion.

Intercessions
Jesus our Risen Lord, lives for ever to pray for us and with us to the Father. Through him, let us pray then for the needs of the Church and of the world. Let us say:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.

For the leaders and members of the Church, that they may accept and carry out their mission to live the Good News and to proclaim it to all peoples and cultures, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
For people who stare to heaven and hope in God’s help, that their prayers may be heard: but that they also look to people and commit themselves to them in goodness and compassion, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
For those engaged in social action, that they may work untiringly to bring genuine justice even to the least in a spirit of reconciliation and love, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
For the dying, that they may join Jesus our Lord into the home of the Father and share in his glory, Let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
For our Christian communities, that Christ may be alive among us and give us his Spirit to build up and confirm one another in hope and a spirit of service, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.

God of hope and life, you have not abandoned your Son in death but given him life and glory. In you we trust through Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

Prayer Over the Gifts
God our Father,
here in these signs of bread and wine
your Son Jesus keeps his promise
to be with us always, even to the end of time.
May he live and grow in us,
and animate us by the power of the Holy Spirit
to be his body to the world
and to make disciples of all nations.
Let Jesus bring our prayer before you
and hear us, for he lives with you for ever. R/ Amen.

Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
Let us with joy give thanks to the Father that Jesus, though raised up to heaven, is still with us through his Holy Spirit here in this Eucharist, in the Church, and in the people around us.

Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer
The Lord Jesus is now living
in the glory of the Father in heaven;
there he pleads for us.
Through him, and in his words,
we pray to God. R/ Our Father…

Invitation to Communion
This is the Lord who said:
Know that I am with you always
until the end of time.
This is his risen and glorious body.
Happy are we that he is our bread
on our journey to the Father. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
we thank you for trusting us so much
that you have entrusted to us
the very mission of your Son,
to be his presence to the world.
May we reign with him
by learning from him to serve,
May people see that Christ is alive
because we are his body to the world.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

Blessing
The Lord Jesus tells us,
as he told the apostles:
”Be my witnesses to the whole world.”
Let us not just stare at heaven
but be his message of hope to people on earth
by the way we live his gospel.
And let us ask for God’s blessing.
May we bring the Lord’s message
to our time and to our people. R/ Amen.

May he go about doing good through us
and may we make him visible today. R/ Amen.

May he stay with us through his Spirit
now and till the end of time. R/ Amen.
And may almighty God bless you all,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
in the people around you. R/ Thanks be to God.

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