Reflection for the Ascension, 2024 Year B

Reflection for the Ascension, 2024 Year B

May 14, 2024 | Reflections

For forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus had been with His Apostles and disciples. On the fortieth day, known as Ascension Thursday, He returned to Heaven.

Jesus had told the Apostles to meet Him at the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives rises to an altitude of 810 meters, overlooking Jerusalem from the east. The old city of Jerusalem is just one kilometre away and rises to an altitude of 750 meters, making the panorama from the Mount of Olives perfect. Jesus frequently visited the Mount of Olives to pray and find solitude. The olive trees there are reputed to be more than 2000 years old.

Here Jesus showed Himself to the Eleven and gave them the Apostolic Mandate: Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned.  The Lord had previously promised the gift of the Holy Spirit, who would empower them to take the Gospel to the world and had instructed them to stay in Jerusalem until they receive this gift from on high.  The last gesture of Jesus was to bless the Apostles, as He was lifted up to Heaven.

From the Mount of Olives, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem and shortly after entered the Cenacle with Our Lady. This was upper room of the Last Supper. Our Lady, as Mother of the Church guided the Apostles and kept them united in nine days of prayer (which was the first Novena) for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had promised. According to a tradition, at Pentecost, it was Our Heavenly Mother who opened to bolted door for St Peter to go out and preach his first sermon.

In Sunday’s second reading, St Paul teaches that Jesus has now taken His place at the side of Our Heavenly Father, with His sacred humanity. All authority and Heaven and earth has been given to Him.  The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus brings out human nature back into a right relationship with God.

In Old Testament times, the Israelites achieved this right relationship with God through the sacrifice of Atonement (at-one-ment: the sacrifice that made sinners, once again, one with God).  This sacrifice took place in the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of Moses’s tent of worship and, later, of the Temple in Jerusalem. It was separated from the inner Altar of Incense by a huge, thick, ancient curtain. Only the High Priest was allowed to pass through that curtain once a year, on the Day of Atonement. This ancient ritual foreshadowed Christ’s Ascension, because in the Ascension Christ was taken up into the real, eternal, Holy of Holies; the inner chamber of the universe, Heaven itself. But instead of coming out, He stays there in His human nature, as our intercessor and everlasting bridge of reconciliation between mankind and God.

Through Baptism and the gift of sanctifying grace we now live in a graced relationship with God and have no doubts that our sins can be forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession. We don’t have to wait for the Day of Atonement; we can live constantly in a right relationship with God due to Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross, which was accepted by the Father. We meditate on the great event of the Ascension in the Second Glorious Mystery of the Rosary.

Jesus has gone to Heaven to prepare a place for each one of us and He nourishes us as we journey through the desert of this life, by the Eucharist. Our primary mission on earth is to bear witness to Christ and to strive for holiness. The Apostles prepared for Pentecost with a Novena of intense prayer with Our Lady. The Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle is like this first Cenacle, where we invoke the Holy Spirit through the Immaculate Heart.  The Church encourages us to ask above all for spiritual gifts. Jesus said:

……How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11: 13).

One example of a Novena to the Holy Spirit can be found at:

Come, Holy Spirit, Fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in them the Fire of Your Love. Send Forth Your Spirit and they shall be created, and You shall Renew the face of the earth!