|Breaking Open the Word|
|Senior Health and Hospital|
|World & Nation|
|Year For Priests|
|DCR Advertising Rates|
|DCR Submission Guidelines|
May 12, 2010
Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
May 16 Ascension Sunday
• Acts 1:1-11
Overview: The ascension of Christ marks the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and sets the stage for the mission of the Church. In the first reading the disciples were talking to Jesus about the kingdom of God. Was he was going to restore the kingdom at that time, they wondered. The kingdom of God, he said, would come when they received the Holy Spirit. First, he had to take his place on the heavenly throne; then the disciples would receive “power.” Such power, however, was not a worldly power, but the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses. There are two options for the second reading. Ephesians highlights the mystery of God’s plan fulfilled in Christ and the Church. The risen and exalted Lord sits at the right of God, “far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion.” Christ continues to act in the world through his body, the Church. The reading from Hebrews explains how Christ, having passed through the “veil” of human flesh, has entered into heaven “once for all.” Through him we now have access to heaven through the sacraments. The Gospel, like the first reading, records the ascension of Jesus. His final act is to commission the apostles to be his witnesses, but not before they had been “clothed with power from on high.”
Key verse: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8).
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”: “The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. By ‘the Father’s right hand’ we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was glorified. Being seated at the Father’s right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah’s kingdom” (No. 662-664).
Pope Benedict XVI: “(The ascension) expresses our belief that in Christ’s human nature, the humanity in which we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God. The ascension was not what we usually misinterpret it being: the temporary absence of Christ from the world. It meant, rather, that God has a place for man!” (“Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI”).
Life application: Before Christ, “flesh” was a barrier between humankind and God. In the resurrection and ascension of Christ, however, flesh is not destroyed, but taken up into heaven. At the beginning of the Eucharist the priest exhorts us: “Lift up your hearts!” and we reply, “We lift them up to the Lord!” At Mass, in other words, it’s not just that Christ descends to earth, but that with him we ascend to heaven.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese.