“Then He led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised His hands, and blessed them. As He blessed them He parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did Him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” – Luke 24:50-53
Forty days after Easter, we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus, when Jesus no longer remains physically present on earth but in His glorified body takes His seat at the right hand of God.
Jesus spent those days after His Resurrection often appearing to the Apostles with words of love and forgiveness. After forty days, He led the Apostles up to the Mount of Olives. As His final words, He told them to teach everyone they could about what He had taught them and to baptize them. He told them that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate ten days later at Pentecost. (Acts 1:6-14) Originally, the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus was celebrated at the same time as Pentecost but was moved to its own day in the 4th century.
We not only celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ Ascension on this feast day but also every time we say the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed, remembering Jesus’ Paschal Mystery; His passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, “…on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.”
Jesus rose up to heaven in His triumph over death in order to bring about a new and higher existence to those who wish to share in His glory. In His glorified state, Jesus remains present in our world in a new way and He calls us to live in faithful service until He comes again.
What’s the Difference: Ascension, Assumption and Annunciation?
These three feasts can be easily confused since they all start with ‘a’ and end with ‘ion,’ however, they are quite different. Chronologically, the Annunciation takes place first, March 25, and signifies the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will conceive and bear the Son of God. The Ascension comes next, forty days after Easter, as mentioned above. Last is the Assumption, August 15, which celebrates the ascension of Mary into Heaven.