May 9th, 2013 (see other dates)
The Ascension of the Lord (Solemnity and Holy Day of Obligation)
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Have you ever felt caught between the past and the future? Have you ever been challenged to let go of the good things of the past in order to be ready for the good things yet to come? The ascension of Jesus told the apostles and tells us that Jesus' presence with us will no longer be the same as it was. He will be with us, but in a different way. He will be with us by the grace of Baptism and the other sacraments, in the power of the Holy Spirit. How was the ascension of Jesus a "call to action" for the apostles? How is it a "call to action" for the Church today? How is it a "call to action" for you?
Pray together: Jesus, lift us up out of all our doubts, confusion, and selfish concerns. Give us a clearer view of the world around us. Help us the claim the power to make a difference in your name. Amen.
Reading 1 Acts 1:1-11
Reading 1 ReflectionWhen all had finished their meal together at the Last Supper, Jesus prayed: "Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began" (John 17:5). God answered that prayer in Jesus' resurrection and ascension. In today's reading from the opening of Acts, Luke is expressing a truth about Jesus. That truth is that God "lifted Jesus up" to eternal glory after Jesus had done God's will on earth. He established the kingdom, or reign, of God among us. Now God's Spirit would give the disciples the power to spread that reign to the ends of the earth.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2How can you know "the hope" to which you are called? How will "the eyes of your hearts be enlightened"? Think about the role the following might have in your ongoing enlightenment: study of the Scriptures; prayer; seeking advice from a spiritually wise person (a priest, a teacher, a parent, a friend); reading a good book about Jesus or one of the saints.
Just a reminder: prayer involves listening to God as well as talking to God. How can you listen to God as he speaks through the scriptures? a homily? the events of your day? One way might be to pray this question after reading scripture or hearing a homily or mulling over an event of the day: "Holy Spirit, what do you want me to know? What is in this for me?" Listen quietly for a moment. You may recall a word or phrase from the scripture or homily. Remember it and repeat it often during the day. The meaning may be obvious at once, or it may become clear gradually. Your faith, hope, and love will be strengthened.
Reading 2 Ephesians 1:17-23
Reading 2 ReflectionOur reading from Ephesians is right in harmony with today's feast. The author sings God's praises for raising Jesus to his heavenly throne and placing all creation "beneath Christ's feet." Jesus is now head of the Church and the Church is his body. We have inherited his power and his mission. The more clearly we come to know him, the more powerful we become as people who can change the world. May his kingdom, or reign, come through us!
Discussion Questions for GospelThe ascension is the last of the appearances of the risen Jesus to his apostles. In a way, we can say that he "saved the best 'til last," because at this time Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the apostles. At the time, they had no idea what "power from on high" would mean for them or how this Power would change their lives.
How do you feel when someone makes a promise to you like, "We're going someplace special on Sunday"? Or, "I promise to help you with your math every night"? Sometimes the promise is a promise of a surprise. "Be sure to come next week because we're having a surprise." How do you feel while you wait for the surprise? How do you feel when the promise (even if it isn't a surprise) is kept?
Pentecost was Jesus' big surprise for his apostles. How does the Holy Spirit surprise you in your life? How do you and the Holy Spirit work together to surprise others? How could you, your group, and the Holy Spirit work together to surprise the poor, the sick, the lonely, or others in need?
Gospel Luke 24:46-53
Gospel ReflectionToday's reading is the dramatic conclusion of Luke's Gospel. We hear Jesus giving his farewell address to the apostles after his resurrection. He reminds them of who he is and who they are and will be. Once the promised Spirit has come, the apostles will venture out to preach and forgive sins in Jesus' name. They will build up his body, the Church. Jesus extends his hands over his friends, blesses them, and departs. But the ending is a happy one because those who believe in him know that Jesus is "with us always."
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
I Am With You AlwaysHave the children make a magnet for the refrigerator as a reminder that Jesus is always with us. Reproduce the name, Jesus, on construction paper or card stock for each child. Have the children color the letters and decorate as desired. Attach a strip of magnet to the back. Encourage the children to place this on their refrigerators at home to remember that Jesus is always with them.
FortyJesus ascended into heaven forty days after he rose from the dead. Celebrate this fortieth day by doing several activities centering around the number forty. Have children bring in collections of forty items. Take forty steps together as a class. Share forty cookies. Have each child put forty stickers in the bubble number 40. Add additional activities as desired. (Send the children home forty minutes early!)
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Jesus Remains With UsWe no longer see Jesus' earthly body. Yet we know that he remains with us as he promised. How has Jesus shown you "in many convincing ways" that he is alive? Read over the following statements and complete those that apply to your experience of Jesus.
Note: You might like to use this as a private journaling activity.
I have seen him in ________________________________, whom I love dearly.
I have sensed his presence in places like________________________________.
I have seen him in people who________________________________________.
I have known that he was with me when________________________________.
What would help you to be more alert to Jesus' presence?
Being a Witness for JesusAt the ascension, Jesus told the apostles to be his witnesses.
Choose one of the following ways of witnessing faith to others. Explain how you will carry it out.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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