This year Ascension Thursday, one of the year’s Movable Feasts, is May 30. Exactly 40 days after Easter, this holy day commemorates Jesus’ ascension into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father. The significance of the day lies both in Jesus’ resurrection and in the message it sends us that he died to secure forgiveness for our sins and open the gates of heaven to us.
Ascension Thursday in the Bible
The story of Jesus rising into heaven is related by three different writers in the Bible:
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
The Ascension of Jesus
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.
Honoring Jesus’ Ascension
In reciting the Regina Coeli on May 13, 2018, Pope Francis reflected on the meaning of the Ascension:
The Lord’s Ascension into heaven, while inaugurating a new form of Jesus presence among us, calls us to keep eyes and hearts open to encounter him, to serve him and bear witness to him to others. It is a matter of being men and women of the Ascension, that is, those who seek Christ along the paths of our time, bringing his word of salvation to the ends of the earth.
Throughout The Archdiocese of Hartford, we will be holding events to celebrate Ascension Thursday. Check your parish and school websites and social media to learn more about what is happening near you.
For activities you can do at home with your own family, visit one of our favorite educational resources, The Religion Teacher, which presents a multitude of links for sites offering lesson plans, coloring pages, crafts, and readings, including:
How do you recognzie Ascensuion Thursday with your family? What are your family's goals for living in Jesus' image and expressing gratitude for his sacrifice? Let us know on our social media.