Ascension Sunday Sunday
(Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mt 28:16-20)
As the Apostles were looking on, Jesus was lifted up. Today we celebrate the day of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven that is traceable in the 4th century’s writings of Eusebius and 5th century with St. Augustine.
We first need to understand that the time between resurrection and ascension was not 40 days but Luke uses the number 40 in accordance to the meaning of it among the Jews. After Jews Paschal, they had another feast that would come after 40 days (Yom habikkurim) when the Jews used to take their first fruits for blessings and we find it when the feast of Ascension was born it was characterized by blessing of beans and grapes as the first fruits. Candles were blessed while the Easter candle is extinguished. There was procession with torches and banners (symbol of lion stepping on the dragon as a sign of Jesus’ victory) to commemorate Christ’s entry into heaven. This was the only day the deacons and subdeacons would wear mitre like that of the bishop.
The Pentecost (Shavu’ot) was on the 50th day that they would offer new meat (Leviticus 23.16) and two loaves baked with leaven (Leviticus 23.17) of bread, as offering to the Lord 17. These days were adapted by the Church Fathers in order to lure the Jews as they did with the feast day of the Sun, Sunday.
I believe many of us have had an experience of escorting somebody they love to the airport or train station. When these people board the train or they check in, we are left there with a feeling of “missment.” Some people end up arriving their destination even before those who escorted them arrived back home. When you call to say you’ve arrived they tell you, actually we are still taking coffee at the airport! I wouldn’t like to say of those who remain at the cemetery hours after the funeral.
That is what happened to the disciples when Jesus ascended into heaven. They were in that state “missment” and actually Jesus arrived into heaven and watching down he saw they were still there looking at the sky. He had to send his messengers to come and tell them to go home. Some say that Jesus made the two fingers sign (nowadays we term as victory sign if not FORD ASILI) before flying and was misinterpreted to have meant ‘Give me two minutes’ but the expectantly waiting became two hours, two days, two weeks, two years, and even in the year 2000 there were people waiting. That is the best thing with Hope. Time is inexistence!
(I don’t intend to be Rastafarian but I love Jah)
But what is important is to do as Jesus commanded, that is, to go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them to observe all Jesus taught trusting that Jesus is still with us till the end of the ages.
Unfortunately, this command is not obeyed enough. Actually, too many Christians are no longer fishers of men but keepers of the aquarium if not tourist.
His presence is to be experienced in the Holy Spirit. Thus, he commanded the disciples not to depart from Jerusalem before receiving the “the promise of the Father,” the Holy Spirit. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and He has all power in heaven and on earth.
We conclude with the blessing of St. Paul to the Ephesians and us today.
Dearly beloved, 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. Amen
St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.