There is a phrase in the gospel that the deacon has just proclaimed that we celebrate today on the feast of the ascension. ‘Ascension’ comes from the Latin word ‘ascendere‘ which means ‘to be lifted/exalted/taken up’. The phrase used by the evangelist Mark is “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God” (Mk 16:19-20). This is what we say also in the Creed.

What does it mean to celebrate Jesus sitting at the right hand of God? It is not that there is some seat or chair somewhere in the Universe reserved for Jesus. It is an expression to say that Jesus, the son of God, glorified carries also his humanity in the glory of God and has the power to be with us and to call us to himself.

So today we are not celebrating a departure, a farewell. We are celebrating the power of Jesus to be present in our lives because he is seated at the right hand of the Father. He has the omnipotence, the almighty power to be present, to act in our faith, to intercede for us, to obtain forgiveness of our sins and to bring us blessings of peace and reconciliation.

Today we celebrate the fact that Jesus in his glorified body, in his glorified state, carries also his glorified humanity and as the liturgy says today, our head which is Jesus, is in the glory of the Lord. So we are pulled and carried with it in this extraordinary destiny we have to be with God in heaven.

As the prayer, at the beginning of mass today, in accordance with his promise, we may be worthy for him to live with us always on earth and we with him in heaven. So we are saying, make us worthy to feel your presence with us because you are Emanu-el, you remain God with us even as we celebrate your ascension. In actual fact, the promise of God with us is fulfilled today. This is what we celebrate today: the power of Jesus to be with us wherever we are. The power of Jesus to be in the Eucharist, the power of Jesus to be in the word that we proclaim but we say the word of God. The power of Jesus in the sacrament.

We celebrate today this glorious power to be with us, this being Emanu-el. But we also proclaim the fact that he is Jesus, the God who is our saviour, the God that ensures and guarantees for us a destiny that is beyond our imagining, a destiny of pure joy, peace, wholeness and holiness. And so today we feel we are really in a deep communion with the saints in heaven, with our brothers and sisters who are going through a process of purification as they meet the Lord after this earthly life and also with our brothers and sisters who share our faith.

On the Maltese islands and so many parts of the world, we start celebrating Mother’s Day and we also pray that the gift of motherhood in the Church and around the world in humanity remains a beautiful gift of presence and a call to holiness.

Every mother brings this instinct of being present, of making her life a gift and a presence and we celebrate motherly love as a great gift of our creator. And as we know our mothers from the very instant of our existence as a protective womb, a safe haven, from which we need to grow out and develop, so is this world. This world is also our womb. We need to grow out of this beautiful world, this haven which is not always safe, which is full of perils, which matures us and makes us cry, so that we may be born to our safe haven in heaven.

We pray today for people who are searching for God that they may find and realise that he is with them, that we also join those who thirst for heaven when they feel that they need beauty, truth and goodness. Because all this is actually a foretaste of heaven and so let us also thank the Lord for all those of us in the arts, in literature, in every sort of state and vocation, who promote truth, beauty and goodness. They are also a sign of the presence of God in our lives, they are also called to the fullness and holiness of heaven.

✠ Charles Jude Scicluna
    Archbishop of Malta

Reading I: Acts 1:1-11
46 (47):2-3,6-7,8-9
Reading II: 
Ephesians 4:1-13
Gospel: Mark 16:15-20

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