Walter de Sa
In the Psalm (47:5) one comes across the following words: “God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with the sound of a trumpet.” These words found in the Book of Psalms of the Old Testament refer to Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
As written by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, the Risen Lord was taken up to Heaven after appearing to the apostles and others during the course of forty days. Having instructed them, and commissioned them to be His witnesses in Jerusalem throughout Judea and Samaria, and even to the corners of the world, He was lifted up before their eyes in a cloud that hid Him from their sight (Acts 1:1-9). Also in his gospel, Luke narrates that the Risen Lord, as He blessed the apostles, was taken up to Heaven (24:51).
This supernatural event came to be known as the Ascension of the Lord which the Catholic Church celebrates as a great solemnity, being the part of the Paschal mystery on Seventh Sunday of the Easter Season. (This year the feast comes on 21 May).
The Ascension of the Lord is a tenet of the Christian faith. In the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed as well as in the Apostles’ Creed, this truth is incorporated, namely, “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father”. This creed which encompasses the whole doctrine of Christian faith is recited on all Sundays and Holydays of Obligation. Besides, in our families who pray the Holy Rosary, the creed is recited; and, in addition, the second mystery of the five Glorious Mysteries is the “Ascension of the Lord”.
In the Parish Church of Panjim, the Ascension of the Lord is the second major feast for which a 9-days spiritual preparation is held by organizing a special liturgical service consisting of the proclamation of the Word of God and of the liturgy of the Eucharist. For the benefit of the parish community and of the neighbouring parishes, three Masses are daily celebrated. The evening Mass is allotted to parish zones whereby the zone leaders prepare the liturgy and singing for the better active participation of the faithful in the Holy Mass. There are also various church associations that contribute to the growth of the parish life.
They too are involved in the organisations of the feast day Masses. Such arrangements aim to bring together the faithful of the parish and to foster and strengthen bonds of friendship, unity and harmony.
During His earthly stay, Jesus had now and then hinted to His disciples about His going back to where He came from. John in his gospel notes down such statements made by Jesus, much before His passion and death as well as after His resurrection.
In John 16:28, Jesus says: “I came into the world. Now I am leaving the world to go to the Father.” A little earlier, Jesus also says, “In a short time you will no longer see Me; then a short time later you will see Me again, since I am going to the Father.”
On hearing this, the disciples were totally blank. They failed to understand what Jesus actually meant. On realizing that their minds were confused, Jesus drew a similarity with a woman in labour who goes through birth pangs, but on seeing a new life born, she is all filled with joy. Thus, Jesus said, “You are sad for a time, but I shall see you again; then your hearts will rejoice with a joy no one can take from you” (Jn. 16:22).
Jesus’ going to His Father is advantageous for us as He promised to send the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit) who will abide in us always and teach us everything.
In His last discourse, we find encouraging words of Jesus: “I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I shall come back to take you with Me, that where I am you also may be” (Jn. 14:3).
After His resurrection, the Risen Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene who failed to recognize Him. She mistook Him for a gardener. Only when He called her by name “Mary”, she then in reply with full exuberance called Him, “Rabboni!” And He commanded her with an important task, “Go to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God’” (Jn. 20:17).
This annual feast of our parish will have a greater impact on our lives as the Lord invites us to set our hearts and minds on things that are in Heaven where Christ is seated on His throne at the right side of God the Father.
On this festive day, we extend our cordial greetings with an assurance of our prayers and blessings of the Risen Lord on all the Panjimites.
(Fr Walter de Sa is the Parish Priest of Immaculate Conception Church, Panjim)