|Posted on May 10, 2017 at 12:05 PM|
Ascension Sunday (Year A)
Gospel: Matthew 28:16 - 20
Our Lady’s Message: The Holy Mountain (268 )
Dear brothers and sisters,
We now celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. But, even if the Risen Lord leaves and returns finally to the Father, we hear the assurance of his continued presence: “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). Paradoxically, his physical separation from us actualizes his promise of a spiritual union with us and with the entire world for all time.
To help us attain this spiritual union, Our Lady invites us to ascend with her the holy mountain of perfect conformity with Jesus. We will read Message 268, “The Holy Mountain,” from the book “To the Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons.”
I. GOSPEL READING (Matthew 28:16-20)
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Points for Reflection
1. The Mission and Vision at the Ascension
Matthew’s version of the Ascension (Mt. 28:16-20) is not with a visual description of Jesus being taken up to heaven, but with a simple yet profound scene featuring his parting words to the eleven. Despite Judas’ betrayal, the Risen Lord entrusted them with the mission and vision.
Claiming full power in heaven and on earth, he gives them the mission “to make disciples of all nations.” Baptism is the means of entry into the community of disciples. The formula in baptism (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit) not only contains the clearest expression in the New Testament of Trinitarian faith, but also designates the grace and effect of this sacrament - the spiritual union of the baptized with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the vision of Jesus for us - a community of disciples living in the fullness of divine life (the life of grace, which was the focus of reflection in the past two Sundays).
2. The Emmanuel at the Ascension
Jesus’ parting words bring us back to the beginning of the gospel when he is given the name “Emmanuel.” In that name, we find the answer to humanity’s deepest longing for God throughout the ages. When we pronounce the word, we actually plead: “God, be with us!” And when God speaks it, He is telling us: “I am with you” in Jesus. Thus, “Emmanuel” is alluded to in the Risen Lord’s assurance of his continued presence: “I am with you always” (Mt. 28: 20). God did indeed keep his promise in Jesus. This is the consoling image of the Ascension: He never leaves us.
Pope Benedict XVI gives insightful explanation on this, citing the episode after the multiplication of the bread when Jesus makes the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the opposite shore, while he goes up by himself on the mountain to pray (Mk 6:45–52; Mt. 14:22-36; John 6:16-24). Alone in the boat, the disciples are threatened by the storm. The Lord seems to be far away in prayer on his mountain. But, because he is with the Father, he sees them. And seeing them, he comes to them across the water, gets into the boat with them and makes it possible for them to continue to their destination.
3. Life in the Ascension
This applies to us. Because Jesus is on the mountain praying with the Father, he sees us; at any moment, can get into the boat of our life. Therefore, we can always call on him and be always certain that he sees and hears us. In our own day, the boat of the Church travels against the headwind of history through the turbulent ocean of time. It often looks as if it is bound to sink. But, the Lord is there, and he comes at the right moment. “I go away, and I will come to you.” In the paradox of Ascension, we find the essence of trust and hope.
Pope Benedict XVI sums up. “Because Jesus is with the Father, he has not gone away but remains close to us. Now, he is no longer in one particular place as he had been before the Ascension. Through his power over space and time, he is present and accessible to all throughout history and in every place” (Jesus of Nazareth).
II. OUR LADY’S MESSAGE: "THE HOLY MOUNTAIN” (Message 268 )
July 16, 1983
Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
a. Ascend with me, beloved sons, the holy mountain of your perfect conformity to Jesus.
b. How many times my Son Jesus lovingly ascended the mountains, impelled by an ardent desire for solitude and silence, to live with greater intensity his union with the Father!
c. From the time of his adolescence, He often sought refuge in the hills surrounding Nazareth; it was on a mountain that He promulgated the evangelical Law of the Beatitudes; it was on Mount Tabor that He experienced the ecstasy of his transfiguration; in Jerusalem, a city on a mountain, He gathered his own together for the Last Supper and endured the sorrowful hours of his interior agony; on Mount Calvary He consummated his Sacrifice; on the Mount of Olives his final separation from his disciples took place, in the glorious Ascension into heaven.
d. Today ascend with me the holy mountain which is Jesus Christ, so that you can enter into a life of intimacy with Him. In these times of my decisive battle, each of you has been called to combat, armed with the very light of Christ, because you must be his own presence in the world.
e. For this reason, ascend the holy mountain of his wisdom, which is revealed to you if you remain little, humble and poor. Your minds will be drawn towards his divine mind, and you will penetrate into the secret of truth revealed in Holy Scripture; you will be captivated by the beauty of his Gospel, and with courage you will pronounce the word of Jesus to the men of today, that word which alone illumines and can lead to the fullness of the truth.
f. Ascend the holy mountain of his Heart, so that you may be transformed by the burning bush of his divine charity.
g. Then your hearts will be dilated and molded after his, and in the world you will be the very pulsations themselves of the Heart of Jesus, which seeks above all those who are furthest away, and wishes to envelop all in the flames of his infinite mercy.
h. You will become meek and humble of heart; you will be truly able to love; you will pour balm on the grievous wounds of the suffering and of those most in need; you will give your priestly help especially to those who have lost themselves along the road of iniquity and sin. In this way with your love, you will bring an immense number of my children to the path of salvation.
i. Ascend the holy mountain of his divine humanity, in order to become reflections of his perennial immolation for you: his eyes in your eyes, his hands in your hands, his Heart in your hearts, his sufferings in your sufferings, his wounds in your wounds, his Cross in your cross.
j. In this way you will become the potent presence of Jesus who, by means of you, can still today work mightily to bring all to salvation. In this salvation is the triumph of my Immaculate Heart; in it is to be found the conclusion of the battle to which I have summoned you and the realization of my heralded victory.
k. Therefore, beloved sons, it now becomes more urgent than ever to follow me, your heavenly Leader. Ascend with me, then, the holy mountain that is Christ, to become perfectly assimilated to Him, so that He may live again in each of you, in order to bring all men to salvation.
Points for Reflection
1. Ascending the Holy Mountain
Our Lady uses the metaphor of “ascending the holy mountain” to point to us the way to our perfect union with Jesus, her way of living the Ascension. Thus, her invitation: “Ascend with me the holy mountain of your perfect conformity to Jesus” (268 a).
To initiate us into this perfect union, she tells us how significant the mountain was for Jesus. During his adolescence, he often sought refuge in the hills around Nazareth. When he preached the Beatitudes, it was on a mountain. He went into the ecstasy of his transfiguration at Mount Tabor. He had his Last Supper in Jerusalem, a city on a mountain. He made his supreme sacrifice at Mount Calvary. And, at the Mount of Olives, he finally left and ascended into heaven (268 c).
2. Jesus, the Holy Mountain
Jesus is the “holy mountain” (268 d). Our Lady urges us to spiritually ascend the mountain of his wisdom in order to be drawn towards his divine mind and be illumined by and led to the fullness of the truth (268 e), to ascend the mountain of his Heart in order to be transformed by the burning bush of his divine charity and be covered with the of his infinite mercy (268 f-g), and to ascend the mountain of his divine humanity in order to become reflections of his presence in this world (268 i-j). Ascending this holy mountain brings us into “a life of intimacy with Him” (268 d).
3. Ascend with Me
To reach the summit of our perfect conformity to Jesus, we need Our Lady. According to St. Louise de Montfort, she is the “most conformed to Jesus,” and so, the best one to make us most conformed to him. Through our consecration, she transforms us and forms in us the image of her Son. “This act has been taken seriously by me, and it has in itself the capacity of truly changing and transforming your life. With this act, you have put your life in my hands. Now it belongs to me. I have taken possession of it; and now, bit by bit, I am transforming it according to my will. I will lead you gently to that perfection into a very faithful image of my Son Jesus” (22 c-e).
Our consecration is our ascension. Let us live it daily.
Happy Ascension Sunday! God bless you all!
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
Bp Donald W. Montrose, D.D., 1998
Abp Francesco Cuccarese, 2007