The Mount of Olives where according to the ancient tradition the Ascension of the Lord happened has been a Moslem holy site for centuries now. They built a Mosque there. There is no hope that this place can return to Christians. That’s why only once a year, on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord the believers of Jesus are permitted to gather there to celebrate the Holy Mass.
Dear Friends of Jesus!
On this Day of the Ascension of Christ we are reminded that the site which witnessed what we heard of in the readings of this Mass doesn’t belong to us. We don’t have the ownership to the place where the feet of the Risen Lord touched the Earth for the last time before he took his seat at the right hand of his Almighty Father. We don’t have the ownership to the piece of land on the Mount of Olives but this Day which concludes the period when Christ the Lord was being seen alive by his disciples after his Death and Resurrection proclaims a great joy to us who acknowledge Him the Lord and Savior. The joy of this day comes to us as we are assured that we can claim our ownership to more than just a few square meters of land, we can claim our ownership to heaven itself. Jesus who wasn’t ashamed to acknowledge us as his sisters and brothers by making us adopted children of God, fills our souls with assurance of being welcomed into the Halls of Paradise. Heaven isn’t earned by what we do during our life but it is our inheritance because of our faith in the Son of God. Let’s remember the parable about the Merciful Father and the Prodigal Son. The boy was given great riches not because he deserved them but because he was a son of the One who owned the riches. You may ask what the riches are all about. Well, let me approach the topic from another perspective, let me ask you who is the poorest person on this planet? The poorest person is the one who doesn’t know Jesus Christ. What we know, what we believe as followers of the Lord is our richness. It is what draws us to him. Jesus before his Passion said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Very often we associate this sentence with his death on the cross but the mystery of today’s feast shows us Christ exalted above heaven and earth not to be distanced from us but to draw us to himself. The Holy Spirit promised that day by the Lord is the invisible force directing us to Christ. How many people of different races and languages have allowed themselves being attracted to the One whose majesty and interior richness captivate the choirs of angels? This Sunday Pope Francis will canonize 800 martyrs beheaded by the Ottoman Turks in Otranto, Italy — the martyrs whose bones line the walls of the famous Otranto Cathedral. On August 14, 1480, Ottoman invaders marched some 800 men, almost all tradesmen and laborers, over the age of 15 up the Hill of Minerva (since renamed the Hill of the Martyrs) and slaughtered them when they refused to convert to Islam. We know the name of only one, Antonio Primaldo, who told the soldiers, “We will all die for Jesus Christ; we willingly die so as to not renounce his holy faith.” According to four eyewitnesses whose testimony was written down in 1539, his decapitated body stayed upright until it fell with the last of the other martyrs.
“When I am lifted up I will draw all to myself” says Jesus and as we mediate on the mystery of his Ascension we glorify him for the countless numbers of people who have discovered true riches hidden in Christ.