Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11
Jesus is taken up to heaven in the presence of the Apostles.
Sing praise to God as he mounts his throne.
Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23
God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand.
Jesus is taken to heaven and the disciples remain in Jerusalem awaiting his sending of the Spirit.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany,
raised his hands, and blessed them.
As he blessed them he parted from them
and was taken up to heaven.
They did him homage
and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
and they were continually in the temple praising God.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today is our liturgical celebration of the Ascension of the Lord, when Jesus was taken to heaven on the 40th day after Easter. In Cycle C, our Gospel is taken from the conclusion of the Gospel of Luke.
There are similarities in the reports of Jesus’ Ascension found in the Synoptic Gospels—Mark, Matthew, and Luke. In each account, Jesus assigns his disciples the task of proclaiming the Gospel to the entire world. There are also notable distinctions. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, the disciples are sent by Jesus to baptize as well as to preach. In Luke’s Gospel, however, this commission to baptize is absent. Instead, Jesus directs the disciples to return to Jerusalem to await the fulfillment of his promise to send them the Holy Spirit. Curiously, only Mark and Luke actually report Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. Matthew’s Gospel concludes with Jesus’ promise to remain with his disciples forever. Only the Gospel of Mark notes that Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of God. In noting this, Mark teaches that Jesus’ Ascension affirms the glory Jesus received from God after his death and Resurrection.
Those who believe in Jesus will be empowered to do what Jesus himself has done. Already in Mark’s Gospel, during his ministry, Jesus sent his disciples out to preach, to heal, and to drive out unclean spirits. Now, they are sent again to do these things and more. From his place with God in heaven, Jesus helped his disciples, and he continues to help us as we try to live as his followers.
Any family that has tried to sit down to a family dinner or packed the car for a trip has heard children argue at least once about who should sit where. To sit next to someone, especially if that person is important, is to have a place of honor. Jesus has this place of honor, seated now at the right hand of the Father (as we say in the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed), but there’s more to this metaphor than where Jesus sits in relation to God. To be in the place of honor is also to be in a place of power. Knowing people in powerful places can be very helpful. Children remind us of this each time we are called upon to referee a conflict. Jesus, honored now at God’s right hand, is a powerful ally for us.
As you gather as a family, recall a time when there was a discussion, or perhaps even an argument, about where people were going to sit. Talk about why it might be important to a person to sit in a particular place. Mention that in this Sunday’s Gospel we learn about Jesus’ place in heaven. Read together Luke 24:46-53. Talk about how in the Creed we describe Jesus’ place in heaven as “seated at the right hand of the Father.” Discuss what we might learn about the relationship between God and Jesus from today’s Gospel and from the Creed and what we can learn about Jesus’ relationship to us. Observe that one of the things we learn is that Jesus continues to help us from this place of honor in heaven. Pray together the Apostles’ Creed.
Sources: Loyola Press; Sunday Readings