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Ascension Sunday (Ages 6-9): Not Another Death


On Ascension Sunday, or the Feast of the Ascension, we celebrate the moment in Jesus' Risen life—forty days after the Resurrection to the full life of God—when he returns to his Father in heaven. "Ascend" means to rise from a lower level to a higher level. It can also mean to take the throne. We often call Jesus the King—the King of kings—and we celebrate the day that he takes his place on the heavenly throne.

Once, when a young girl heard about the Ascension—Jesus going to God in heaven—she thought that Jesus dies a second time. She understood that Jesus rises from the dead completely full of the life of God. She understood about the Risen life, the life that can never end—eternal life. In fact, she was so used to the Good News that when we die we shall live once more with God in heaven, that it felt like old news. The Ascension can seem like another death of Jesus.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 

Once again, the disciples are with Jesus on a mountain. We know that this is a sign for us. This means there will be an encounter with God.

When they saw him, they worshiped him

Even after forty days, the disciples do not think of the Resurrection as old news. They worship Jesus. That means that they know the encounter with him is an encounter with God. The Risen life is so abundant in him. His life is the life of God.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Jesus has been given all authority-—that means he has been given all power. What he says, he does. What he desires is right and just. What he commands, people do. Who can have given this authority to him? Of course. Only God.

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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.

This is the moment when Jesus makes it very clear that he does not mean to keep this Risen life all to himself. It is his will, his desire, his command that all nations become disciples of God—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. All nations, all the earth, into all of God.

The Plan of God complete. When God is all in all. Parousia.

The Church calls this moment on the mountain a "proleptic Parousia." (Now that is not a word we hear everyday!) It means the Ascension is not another death of Jesus. It means instead that it is a foretaste, a glimpse, a peek at the will of God, at what God wants. At abundant Life.

No more sorrow. No more death. No more war.

One flock, one shepherd.

It is God's will.

It is Jesus' prayer.

“Your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Matthew 6:10)

But is this not too big a work for us? Too much even to try? Too great even to hope for?

Jesus says,

remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What Jesus says, Jesus does. He has the authority.

So what do we do?

We simply pray with Jesus, as Jesus taught us,

“Your kingdom come.”

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