The Ascension of Jesus

May 27, 2022
Author: Hannah DeVivo

Peace be with you!

Yesterday was the feast of the Ascension of Jesus, which is celebrated this Sunday in many dioceses. Let’s talk about what that means and the importance of this feast!

What is the Ascension of Jesus?

After Jesus rose from the dead, He remained on earth for 40 days. Jesus continued to teach and prepare His disciples for the work they would carry out in His name. During this time, Jesus ministered to His apostles and other disciples and frequently appeared to them. When the 40 days were completed, Jesus ascended into heaven. It is important to note that He didn’t simply “die again.” Rather, Jesus was taken up into heaven in His bodily form.

This ascension was a foreshadowing of what we as the Body of Christ will one day experience ourselves. By His Death and Resurrection, Jesus opened the gates of heaven for us. By His Ascension, He demonstrated that although we will die, we will also be raised on the last day. The Ascension was further proof that Jesus is the Son of God Himself. Saint Luke describes in his Gospel (cf. Luke 4:5-7), the temptation of Jesus in the desert, when Satan took Him up to a high place and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. Satan told Jesus that if He would worship him, he would give Jesus power and glory over them all. Jesus refused, saying, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve’” (Luke 4:8).

After Jesus defeated death and the devil through His obedience unto death, He was taken up to His Father’s side as the magnificent King of all. Thus, the Ascension is a godly fulfillment of what Satan tried so desperately to circumvent: the Lordship of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, over all creation.

What happened during the Ascension?

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave what is often referred to as the “Great Commission.” He directed His apostles “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.” (Matthew 28:19-20). He also promised to return.

Jesus led his disciples to Mount Olivet (Mount of Olives). They asked Him if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus replied that it was not for them to know the times or seasons. The last thing He said to them was, “You will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). After saying these words, Jesus was lifted into the sky and a cloud took Him from their sight.

Why do we celebrate the Ascension?

The Paschal Mystery is comprised of Jesus’ Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. When Jesus ascended into heaven in His bodily form, our human flesh was elevated. Additionally, the Ascension reiterated Satan’s defeat. Much of the art in early Christian history depicts Jesus as a lion conquering the devil, portrayed as a dragon. This was the symbol for the Ascension, and prevalent in both iconography and sculptures.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following regarding the significance of the Ascension:

“Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God's heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).”

“Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever.”

“Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit”(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 665-667).

Traditional ways to observe the feast of the Ascension

The feast of the Ascension falls on the 6th Thursday after Easter Sunday and is a Holy Day of Obligation. Many dioceses in the U.S. observe this feast day on the Sunday following. Churches may choose to celebrate the feast however they choose. Here are some common customs:

  • Raising a statue of Jesus through the roof of the church.
  • Special hymns describing the triumphant Ascension of Jesus into heaven.
  • Processional banners and images of a lion defeating a dragon.

What are some fun crafts about the Ascension for children?

Teaching children about the mysteries and wonders of Christianity is important to begin at a young age. As they grow in their faith, their understanding of the important events will necessarily mature as well. That said, introducing these events and wonderful miracles to young minds helps to foster the curiosity and awe in our wonderful Lord. Children’s brains are hardwired for fun, so the best way to introduce these concepts is through an interactive and age-appropriate activity.

Depending on the ages of your children and the materials available to you, there are countless fun activities to do!

  • Coloring pictures of Our Lord ascending into heaven.
  • Creating an image of Jesus ascending using various small objects such as: marshmallows (clouds), sticks, macaroni, rocks (figures), grass, feathers, beads (anything else).
  • Making an interactive presentation with strings attached to a figure of Jesus so that someone can “pull” Jesus into heaven.

How can you celebrate this feast in your home?

Regardless of the ages and number of people in your family, there are many things you can do to illustrate the Ascension in your home. One idea would be to make a pavlova, angel food cake, or other similar cloud-like dessert. Another fun thing would be to get some helium-filled balloons and keep them in the house all day. As you look at them, you can talk about how you would feel if you could float like the balloons. Seeing them throughout the day can help to remind you of Jesus entering heaven. At sunset, go outside with your family and release the balloons. Think about how it must have felt for the Apostles to watch Jesus rise, and ultimately disappear into the sky.

Before You Go

Do you celebrate the feast of the Ascension in a special way?

Did you know that the feast of the Ascension is a holy day of obligation?

Have you learned anything new in this article?

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