First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
In the first book, O The-oph’ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama’ria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 47:2-3, 6-9
Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is terrible, a great king over all the earth. God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! 8God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.
Gospel: Mark 16:15-20
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.
Today, in many dioceses, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. While we absolutely should not gloss over the mind-blowing event surrounding Jesus’ rising by His own power into Heaven, I’m transfixed by the exhortation Jesus gives His disciples immediately before He ascends:
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
These are Christ’s final recorded words on earth, which means they are probably pretty significant. Why then don’t we, as Catholic Christians, talk about them more?
Perhaps it is because these words are mysterious, unlikely, unreasonable, foreign, illogical, impossible, and, let’s face it, sort of . . . weird?
But really—since when do we as Catholics only believe some of the controversial things that Jesus says—“Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall not have life within you (John 6:53),” for example—and not others?
Much about the Christian life is inexplicable by conventional human standards, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true or that miraculous things don’t happen in our modern age. Consider the following:
1) Four years ago, an infant boy fully recovered after being without a pulse for 61 minutes through the intercession of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
2) Last week, a senior citizen touched his wedding ring, strung on a chain around his neck, to a relic of Pope Saint John Paul II and was able to easily fit the ring on his arthritic ring finger for the first time in over a year.
3) A routine ultrasound detected a large mass inside the stomach of a 21 week old preborn baby girl. Her parents asked everyone they knew to pray, and at the follow-up with a specialist, tests confirmed the mass had completely vanished. The little girl is now a healthy 10 year old.
Friends, just insert the inexplicable, incredible, mysterious phenomena and “Godincidences” you’ve experienced in your own life here—the miracles you’ve noticed, both big and small. Ponder the Ascended Lord’s presence in these moments, and praise Him!
Today, consider a situation in which you need the powerful assistance of Almighty God. In the powerful Name of Jesus, ask for what you need, knowing that nothing is too illogical, inconceivable, or impossible for our Ascended Lord.
Heather Anderson Renshaw last called upon Jesus’ Name to help her be a good wife and mother. She also speaks, writes, and usually has too many computer tabs open and not enough laundry done. Learn more about her here.