Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:6-11
The Story in Brief
Jesus appeared to His disciples for forty days after His Resurrection. On the day of His Ascension, the disciples gathered together. They asked Jesus if the time had come for Him to restore the Kingdom to Israel. He replied that it was not their place to know the times set by the Father, but they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit and be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. When He finished speaking and blessing His disciples, He was lifted up before their eyes. A cloud took Him from their sight. While they were still gazing intently at the sky, two men in white robes appeared and asked them why they were standing there looking up toward Heaven. They then promised the disciples that Jesus would return.
Points to Ponder
1. Jesus appeared to the disciples over the course of forty days and spoke with them about the Kingdom of God. During this time, He proved to them that He was alive, risen from the dead. What is the Kingdom of God? Why did Jesus appear for forty days?
2. At the end of the forty days, the disciples gathered together with Jesus. Think about how assembling as a community was already important to the disciples.
3. The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, is this the time when You will restore the kingdom to Israel?” What kind of kingdom did they envision? Was their vision of the kingdom different from that of Jesus?
4. Reflect on Jesus' response to His disciples: “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority.” Think especially about mystery.
5. Jesus promised the disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and that they would be witnesses to Him throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Ponder the power of the Holy Spirit.
6. Reflect on how Christianity has indeed spread to the ends of the earth.
7. What does it mean to witness to Jesus?
8. According to Luke's Gospel, Jesus lifted up His hands and blessed His disciples before He ascended. Reflect on the meaning of this gesture.
9. After He had spoken, Jesus was lifted up before His disciples' eyes and a cloud took Him from their sight. Envision the scene.
10.Why did Jesus ascend to Heaven in a visible way? He could have simply disappeared. Remember that even in His risen state, Jesus is still fully God and fully Man. Remember also that He accommodates Himself to His disciples.
11. Jesus both ascended to Heaven by His own power and was lifted up by His Father. Why is this not a contradiction?”
12. The disciples stood in awe, gazing up toward the heaven. Picture them. Note that the Greek word translated here as “gazing” suggests looking steadfastly and even stretching or straining one's eyes in order to see.
13. Suddenly two men in white robes appeared beside them and asked, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” Think about the implications of this question. Why did the two men ask it? Do the disciples have to redirect their gaze now that Jesus has ascended into Heaven? How so?
14. The two men continued, “This Jesus, Who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way you saw Him go into heaven.” Ponder these words, which provided both reassurance and a promise to the disciples.
15. Who were the two men in white robes?
16. In the Creed, we say that Jesus “ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” What does it mean for Jesus to sit at the Father's right hand?
17. Jesus ascended into Heaven as the God-Man. He ascended into Heaven with a glorified human Body. Ponder this awesome truth.
18. Imagine the welcome Jesus received in Heaven.
1. How do you understand the Kingdom of God? In what ways are you already living in the Kingdom?
2. How important is it to you to assemble with other Christians?
3. How good are you at accepting mystery?
4. How is the Holy Spirit working in your life? Do you have a relationship with the Holy Spirit?
5. In what ways are you a witness to Jesus? How might you extend your witness?
6. How would you have responded to the Ascension if you had been standing in the disciples' place?
7. Have you ever stood in awe of something God did in your life or someone else's life? What was that experience like?
8. Have you ever been in a situation in which you had to redirect your gaze? What were the circumstances?
9. Is Jesus Christ the King of your life?
10. Do you look forward to the time when you will be in Heaven with Jesus?
Prayer, Prayer, and More Prayer
Blessing and adoration – Dearest Jesus, we bow before You in silent adoration as we contemplate You seated at the right hand of the Father. We fall before You there in wonder and awe, knowing that although You are fully human like us, You are also fully divine, and You reign with Your Father and the Holy Spirit in Heaven.
Praise – Jesus, we praise You for Your ascension. We praise You for being completely awe-inspiring. We praise You for Your glorious reign as King of the universe.
Thanksgiving – Thank You, Jesus, for Your promises. You promised to send the Holy Spirit down upon Your disciples, and You did. We thank You for sending the Spirit down upon us. You promised to come back again from Heaven. We thank You ahead of time, Lord, because we believe that You will keep Your promise.
Intercession – Lord, we lift up to You the missionaries who work to spread Christianity to the ends of the earth. Guard them and guide them, Lord. We lift up those who are outside the Church and do not understand the importance of gathering with other Christians. Touch their hearts, Lord, and bring them home to Your Church.
Petition – Lord, please give us the strength and courage we need to be Your witnesses to the ends of the earth. Please enkindle within us a strong appreciation for mystery. Help us to realize that we need not understand everything in order to have great faith.
Quotes from the Saints
“Christ is already in that place of peace, which is all in all. He is on the right hand of God. He is hidden in the brightness of the radiance which issues from the everlasting throne. He is in the very abyss of peace, where there is no voice of tumult or distress, but a deep stillness--stillness, that greatest and most awful of all goods which we can fancy; that most perfect of joys, the utter profound, ineffable tranquility of the Divine Essence. He has entered into His rest. That is our home; here we are on a pilgrimage, and Christ calls us to His many mansions which He has prepared.” - Venerable John Henry Newman
“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.” - St. Augustine
“I answer that Christ’s Ascension is the cause of our salvation in two ways: first of all, on our part; secondly, on His. On our part, in so far as by the Ascension our souls are uplifted to Him; because...His Ascension fosters, first, faith; secondly, hope; thirdly, charity. Fourthly, our reverence for Him is thereby increased, since we no longer deem Him an earthly man, but the God of heaven; thus the Apostle says (2 Corinthians 5:16): “If we have known Christ according to the flesh — `that is, as mortal, whereby we reputed Him as a mere man,’” as the gloss interprets the words — “but now we know Him so no longer.” On His part, in regard to those things which, in ascending, He did for our salvation. First, He prepared the way for our ascent into heaven, according to His own saying (John 14:2): “I go to prepare a place for you,” and the words of Micheas (2:13), “He shall go up that shall open the way before them.” For since He is our Head the members must follow whither the Head has gone: hence He said (John 14:3): “That where I am, you also may be.” In sign whereof He took to heaven the souls of the saints delivered from hell, according to Psalm 67:19 (Cf. Ephesians 4:8): “Ascending on high, He led captivity captive,” because He took with Him to heaven those who had been held captives by the devil — to heaven, as to a place strange to human nature. captives in deed of a happy taking, since they were acquired by His victory. Secondly, because as the high-priest under the Old Testament entered the holy place to stand before God for the people, so also Christ entered heaven “to make intercession for us,” as is said in Hebrews 7:25. Because the very showing of Himself in the human nature which He took with Him to heaven is a pleading for us. so that for the very reason that God so exalted human nature in Christ, He may take pity on them for whom the Son of God took human nature. Thirdly, that being established in His heavenly seat as God and Lord, He might send down gifts upon men, according to Ephesians 4:10: “He ascended above all the heavens, that He might fill all things,” that is, “with His gifts,” according to the gloss.” - St. Thomas Aquinas
“But you will say, How does this concern me? Because you also shall be taken up in like manner into the clouds. For your body is of like nature to His body, therefore shall your body be so light, that it can pass through the air. For as is the head, so also is the body; as the beginning, so also the end. See then how you are honored by this beginning. Man was the lowest part of the rational creation, but the feet have been made the head, being lifted up aloft into the royal throne in their head.” - St. John Chrysostom
“It has always seemed logical to me that the most holy humanity of Christ should ascend to the glory of the Father. The ascension has always made me very happy. But I think that the sadness that is particular to the day of the ascension is also a proof of the love that we feel for Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is God made man, perfect man, with flesh like ours, with blood like ours in his veins. Yet he leaves us and goes up to heaven. How can we help but miss his presence?” - St. Josemaria Escriva