THURSDAY, May 21, 1998
First Reading: Acts 1: 1-11
Psalms: Psalm 47: 2-3, 6-9
Second Reading: Ephesians 1: 17-23
Gospel Reading: Luke 24: 46-53
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR 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.
For some strange reason, in the dioceses and Archdioceses in the West (Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Hawaii) the Solemnity of the Ascension is not celebrated on this day but transfered to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. In its place they celebrate Thursday in the Sixth Week of Easter or the Feast of Saint Eugene De Mazenod, Bishop and Founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.