Meaning of the Ascension

(May 16, 2021)

Bottom line: Today we see the meaning of the Ascension. Jesus first descended in order to lift us up with him. And he does so by sending the Spirit.

Today we celebrate Jesus' ascension. In our second reading St. Paul writes about the meaning of the Ascension:

"What does 'he ascended' mean except that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth?"

To depict this descent, C.S. Lewis imagines a diver on a cliff. The young man gazes at the sea below. He sheds his clothes, takes a profound breathe and plunges into the water. Deeper and deeper he goes until he becomes enfolded in darkness. Finally he reaches the muddy bottom. Feeling through the mud, he grasps something in his hand and begins to ascend. With mud and seaweed clinging to him, he bursts through the surface. Opening his hand he shows the precious pearl he was seeking.

Jesus descended to the lowest regions so he could ascend to heaven, taking us with him. St. Mark - as is typical for his Gospel - describes Jesus' Ascension in simple, concise words.

"So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God."

Behind these words is a mystery that Christians would explore for centuries. St. Luke puts the Ascension into broader context.

"In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen."

Scholars tell us that the phrase "all that Jesus did and taught" can more accurately be translated "began to do and teach". In the Acts of the Apostles we see Jesus acting and teaching through his disciples. How does he do this? We'll see a fuller answer next Sunday when we celebrate Pentecost. Jesus gives us a preview:

"But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)

The Ascension and Pentecost are intimately joined. Today we see the meaning of the Ascension. Jesus first descended in order to lift us up with him. And he does so by sending the Spirit. I invite you this week to say this simple prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.


Spanish Version

From the Archives (Ascension Homilies):

20120(Year A): To Judge the Living and the Dead
2019 (Year C): The Eyes of Your Heart
2018 (Year B): Bridging the Gap
2017 (Year A): Life in Christ Week 7: Mission
2016 (Year C): Gift of Honor
2015 (Year B): Disciple Makers Week 7: Be Part of the Story
2014 (Year A): Journey to Hope Week 7
2013 (Year C): The Way He Opened
2012 (Year B): He Took Prisoners Captive
2011 (Year A): The Personal Center
2010 (Year C): Disappear vs. Leave
2009 (Year B): What Good-Bye Means
2008 (Year A): Ascension Quotes
2007 (Year C): Separation of Church and State
2006 (Year B): Whoever Believes and is Baptized
2005 (Year A): There the Action Lies
2004 (Year C): Forgiveness - In His Name
2003 (Year B): What Does "He Ascended" Mean?
2002 (Year A): Finding the Way Home (Ascension & Mother's Day)
2001 (Year C): Submission to Jesus
2000 (Year B): Beyond the Secular Paradigm
1999 (Year A): A Wake Up Call
1998 (Year C): Jesus' Rule Vs. Cafeteria Catholicism

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

Parish Picture Album


MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru