Ascension of the Lord

“He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days* and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts of the Apostles 1:3)

In commenting on these verses from today’s First Reading, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“Why did he not appear to everyone, but only to the apostles? Because he would have seemed a mere apparition to most people, since they did not understand the secret of the mystery. For if even the disciples themselves were at first incredulous and troubled and needed the evidence of actual touch with the hand and of his eating with them, what would have happened to most people? For this reason, it is through the miracles done by the apostles that he renders the evidence of his resurrection unequivocal, so that not only the people of those times, but also all people thereafter, should be certain of the fact that he has risen. For the certainty of the former came from seeing the miracles, while that of everyone else was to be rooted in faith. For this reason, our discussion of the apostles also proceeds from here. For if he did not rise again but remains dead, how did the apostles perform miracles in his name? “They did not perform miracles,” some will say. How then was our religion authorized? For certainly they will not disagree with this and argue against what is obvious. Therefore, when they say that no miracles took place, they embarrass themselves more than anyone else. For this would be the greatest miracle of all, if without any miracles the whole world came running to be taken in the nets of twelve poor and illiterate men. For the fishermen prevailed not by wealth of money, nor by cunning of words, nor by any thing else of this kind. Therefore, the unbelievers, though unwilling, will agree that a divine power was present in these men, since no human strength could ever accomplish such great deeds. For this reason then he remained for forty days after the resurrection, giving evidence in this length of time of their seeing him in his own proper person, lest they believe what they saw was a phantom. Indeed, he was not content even with this but added also the evidence of eating at the table. This Luke reveals when he says, “while gathered with them.” The apostles themselves also always took this as proof of the resurrection, as when they say, “we who ate and drank with him.” (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 1)

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord is risen. Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen