Fr Gabriel's Homily from Ascension Day can be read below:
Our gospel today, for year C in the cycle of readings, comes from the closing of the Gospel of Luke. Jesus leads his disciples to the outskirts of Bethany, he promises them the coming of the Holy Spirit, ‘power from on high’, he lifts up his hands and blesses them, then he withdraws from them and is carried up to heaven.
Then the last words of the gospel of Luke are ‘They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.’ They were continually in the Temple, praying. St Luke’s gospel begins with the priest Zechariah in the Temple praying and it ends with the apostles in the Temple, full of joy, praising God.
We too, monks and Christian people, we too are called to be continually in the Temple of our hearts, our inner secret room, praying and praising God. In the gospels of Mark and Matthew, the apostles are commanded by contrast to go back to Galilee where they will see the Lord. And this is true too. We have to be in the busy Galilee of our daily lives and to be in the Temple, full of joy, praising God.
The writer to the Hebrews says ‘through the blood of Jesus we have the right to enter the sanctuary, by a new way which he has opened for us, a living opening through the curtain, that is to say, his body. And we have the supreme high priest over all the house of God. So as we go in, let us be sincere in heart and filled with faith.’
This for us, to state it most briefly, is the message of this Ascension Day: ‘let us go in’. This is the message of the prayers of the Mass. So the collect: ‘where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope’. In the prayer over the offerings that we too may rise up to the heavenly realms. In the prayer after communion that Christian hope may draw us onward to where our nature is united with our God.
Through our celebration of the Ascension of the Lord, let us pray that we may be drawn to that place where he is, with God, in glory
Let us pray that through our lives of prayer and our works of love we may come to be with all the saints in the glory of God. Lord in your mercy
Let us pray for all the peoples of the world, let us pray for our country and for all those with whom we live and work that the light of the glory of Christ in his Ascension may shine upon them and bring them his peace. Lord in your mercy
Let us pray for all those in need in any way and particularly for those known to those here at Mass today. Lord in your mercy
Let us pray for all those who have died, that they may, in their turn, be brought to life with Christ, be raised up with him and given a place with him in heaven. Lord in your mercy
God our Father, raise us up to be with Christ through your mercy and according to your love; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.