On the 40th day after Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to his disciples, ascended into Heaven and was seated at the right hand of God, as told in Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, and Acts 1:6-12. The day commemorating this miracle is called Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday, and is May 25 this year. It is one of the Moveable Feasts. The Catholic Education Resource Center (CERC) explains:
The Ascension of Jesus can be defined as the transfer of his risen, glorious body to heaven, that is, to the world of the divine. In the Old Testament, God is described in some texts as “descending” from heaven to accomplish something on earth; he then “ascends” or returns to the world of the divine. Jesus himself speaks of descending to this earth and ascending again to the Father once his work of redemption has been accomplished (cf. Jn 3:13, Eph 4:10).
In his catechesis during a 2013 general audience, celebrated in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis spoke on the meaning of the Ascension:
Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven thus allows us to know this reality that is so consoling on our journey: in Christ, true God and true man, our humanity has been brought to God. He has opened the way. He is like the leader of a mountain climbing party that is roped together. He has reached the summit and pulls us to himself, leading us to God. If we entrust our lives to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain of being in safe hands.
“The Ascension,” Francis concluded, “doesn’t indicate Jesus’ absence, but rather it tells us that He is living among us in a new way. He is no longer in a particular place in the world as He was before the Ascension. Now He is in the Lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each of us. In our lives we are never alone: We have this Advocate who awaits us and defends us. We are never alone. The crucified and risen Lord guides us. With us there are many brothers and sisters who, in their family life and their work, in their problems and difficulties, in their joys and hopes, daily live the faith and bring, together with us, the Lordship of God’s love to the world. In Jesus Christ, risen, and ascended into Heaven, we have an Advocate.
What are some ways to celebrate the miracle of Ascension and its meaning? Here are two resources that offer a wealth of activities that you can do with your whole family:
- The Religion Teacher offers a multitude of links for sites offering lesson plans, color pages, crafts, and readings.
- Pinterest has an abundance of ideas for celebratory games, foods, and crafts, among other fun things.
How do you and your family celebrate Ascension Day? Let us know on our social media pages.