Feasts and Solemnities



The Ascension of Christ, at least in the Western Church, is a moveable feast.  I remember growing up with the idea of Ascension Thursday as the great celebration of the final and 40th day of the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus to his followers; preparing them for his return to his Father and the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide them into a brave new future.  However, except for 6 U.S. church provinces, most of America has transferred this important feast to the following Sunday to make it possible for the greatest number of communicants to celebrate Jesus’ return to glory.  In this he takes our humanity entire with him in his risen body to dwell in eternal light.  The Incarnation is now complete and God is one with humanity.  This is the feast of the triumph of God’s love begun with the Virgin’s “Yes!” to God’s plan of salvation.  Now begins a time of prayer and preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to guide the newborn Body of Christ into the future.

We, with the disciples, should remain in the Upper Room spiritually, to pray and prepare ourselves to receive the holy fire of God’s Love in a new Pentecost.  Rejoice, my friends, this is a time of gladsome joy!

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Among the many interesting details of today’s Gospel is the name of one of the two men from the followers of Jesus wending their way to the village of Emaeus on the afternoon of Easter Day when Jesus joins them.  The one named Clopas gives the details of the resurrection as they have heard them from “some women of our group”, but considered their account of angels “nonsense”.    John names one of the women at the cross as “Mary the wife of Cleopas”.  She is perhaps Luke’s “mother of James”, but possibly as well this Clopas who dismisses the women’s account is dismissing that of  his own wife.  In any case, the women and other “friends” who did not desert him at the Cross and then returned to the tomb are truly “HEROS OF CHRIST”.

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