7th Week of Easter – Ascension
Forty Days after Easter Sunday the Risen Lord ascended into heaven. Forty days means the Ascension happened on a Thursday – hence the reference sometimes to “Ascension Thursday”.
In New Zealand, and in many countries, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus on the 7th Sunday of Easter because Thursday is a ‘working day’!. It is plain from Scripture that Jesus’ ascension was a bodily return to heaven. He rose from the ground gradually and visibly, observed by many intent onlookers. As the disciples strained to catch a last glimpse of Jesus, a cloud hid Him from their view, and two angels appeared and promised Christ’s return “in just the same way that you have watched Him go” (Acts 1:11). From His Ascension onwards Jesus continues to act through the Holy Spirit and through his followers. Before leaving Mary and his apostles, Jesus gave them the charge to be his missionaries. Their preaching was to have the same effect as his preaching. They, and those who follow them are to challenge people of all times and places to accept the Gospel. St Augustine of Hippo offers us some insight;
“Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.”
Blessings, Fr Michael