LITURGY for WEDNESDAY and ASCENSION THURSDAY - May 31 and June 1, 2000
Wednesday, May 31, 2000
First Reading: Zephania 3: 14-18 or Romans 12: 9-16
Psalms: Isaiah 12: 2-6
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 39-56
FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO ELIZABETH
The Visitation of Mary, the Second Joyful Mystery, commemorates the account in Luke 1: 39-45, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary travels to meet and assist her pregnant cousin Elizabeth who is carrying her son John the Baptist in her womb. Both women, with child greet one another in a spirit of genuine love and caring. We get the significance of this union when we read that "the baby [John] leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!'" This last phrase means, in the Hebrew idiom: "More blessed art thou than any other woman on earth." Elizabeth's joyous greeting and faith in the Lord though she did not physically see the Christ child sets a precedence for Christ's words later in John 6: 40 and John 20: 29 - "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." The meeting of the two also prompted the renowned words in which Our Lady proclaims the glories of God while asserting her humble fiat before the Almighty One in the Magnificat.
THURSDAY, June 1, 2000
THURSDAY June 1:
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD INTO HEAVEN
First Reading: Acts 1: 1-11
Second Reading: Ephesians 4: 1-13
Gospel Reading: Mark 16: 15-20
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD INTO HEAVEN
This mystery, honored 40 days after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrates the Triumph of Jesus Ascension into Heaven. It gave new hope not only to all the Apostles and disciples, but for every person to follow for all generations, for all have ingrained in their hearts and minds Jesus' Own words, "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 all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28: 19-20). At His beckoning, we are invited, rather commanded, to follow Jesus through the authority He placed here on earth - Holy Mother Church. The Church, through the dogmas, doctrines and teachings, combined with tradition, Sacraments, and Sacred Scripture carries on this edict Christ set down just before elevating into the Heavenly clouds and returning to the Father. Just like her Founder, the Church realizes that for all those faithful to Christ's One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church the only way to be reunited with Him in Heavenly bliss is through the Cross. Jesus has shown us that the way of humiliation and suffering is the only true freeway to Heaven. This feast was not officially recognized by the Church until the Fourth Century. Up to that time, the Ascension had traditionally been part of the paschal mystery tied in with the Resurrection. Because of the denial by Celsus in the second century as a pagan myth, the Church finally decided to emphasize this feast, acknowledging that all souls who were saved but denied Heaven before Christ's Death and Resurrection, were brought into the Heavenly Glory with Jesus. His Ascension is the example for all of us that, by doing God's Will, we, too, can look forward to being assumed into Heaven by the grace of God.
NOTE: June 1st is normally the Feast of Saint Justin, Apologist and Martyr, but his feast is superseded this year by the Holy Day of the Ascension. Below is his profile:
Feast of Saint Justin, Apologist and Martyr
Born of pagan parents in 103 AD in the village of Neapolis in Samaria (today Sichem in Palestine), Saint Justin was afforded a good education and devoted his life to the study of philosophy with a growing hunger to know of this God these upstart Christians preached. Unsatisfied with the contending schools of philosophy, he relentlessly continued his search until God Himself quenched that thirst for knowledge which was Divinely inspired through an old Christian man who explained in the simplest, but most profound terms what Christianity was about. Convinced he had found what he had long been looking for, Justin enthusiastically embraced Christianity, realizing that Sacred Scripture and the zeal of the martyrs led to faith and it was in faith that one could come to know God. Once he was converted he threw himself into spreading this faith with the same zeal he had during his search for this faith. Justin carried the Gospel to Egypt, Greece and Italy, distributing his writings far and wide, eventually arriving in Rome where he established a school of Christian philosophy. In his efforts to defend the Jews against the Romans, Justin wrote the Dialogue of Trypho and, armed with the strength of the Spirit wrote two special Apologies to the Roman Senate and Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The second Apology was more than Aurelius could stand. His pride and lack of control raging out of control, Aurelius ordered Justin be put to death. Brought before the Prefect of Rome to be sentenced, Justin and the disciples with him feared no earthly death. When the Prefect provoked Justin by mocking him with the question "Do you think that by dying you will enter this heaven you talk about and be rewarded by this God of yours?" Justin replied, "I do not think; I know!" As Justin was so certain, so also the faith he embraced is a certainty - that by striving to do God's Will through all that Jesus asks within the framework of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church we can be assured of joining Justin someday in our everlasting reward.