Everyone knows who wrote Acts of the Apostles? I mean, besides God. The human author. Right! St. Luke.
So: not only do our first reading and gospel for Holy Mass on Ascension Day have the same human author, but also: the two readings form one continuous passage from St. Luke’s work. We just read them in reverse order. Our gospel reading comes from the end of St. Luke’s first book. And our reading from Acts is the beginning of his second.
We read from Acts 1, “In my first book, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day He was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles.”
“The day He was taken up.” What day was that? Today! Ascension Day.
A day of transition: The transition between St. Luke’s first book and his second. The transition between Christ’s ministry to the human race on earth, and His ministry to the human race from heaven.
He made us essential to His ministry from heaven. We read that, for forty days prior to his transition from earth to heaven, the Lord Jesus gave instructions to His apostles. For the forty days after He rose from the dead, Jesus remained on earth, instructing.
Do we know exactly what those instructions were?
Yes and no. We can’t exactly download the podcast. For us to know and understand the instructions Christ gave during the original Easter season, we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Only when we get to heaven, please God, will we fully know and understand everything.
But let’s speculate a little, about the instructions He gave. What if He rendered them in the form of a ten-point list?
1. My friends, you saw Me die. But I live. When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.
2. Break the bread, in memory of Me.
3. Do not be afraid.
4. Gird your loins, and light your lamps, for you do not know when the final hour will come.
5. Sell what you have, and give to the poor, and 6. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
7. Love one another.
8. Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
9. Rejoice and be glad! Your names are written in heaven.
10. Be good to your mom.