Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

May 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 47, one of seven enthronement psalms which celebrate a “coronation” of God.

All you peoples, clap your hands,
    shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
    is the great king over all the earth.

Psalm 47: 1

Used for the feast of the Ascension, the point of the psalm is much more than an exercise of pageantry. It is an act of faith and reverence to God, the Loving Omnipotence who chose to redeem us by assuming our humanity.

It is a confirmation that we believers do see the Supreme Being in the human Jesus we have come to love. This is what Paul prays for the Ephesians in our second reading:

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might,
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1:18-21

The Great Commission, found in today’s Gospel, is the true gift of the Ascension.

Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:15

Jesus tells us that his time on earth is complete. The lesson of Love has been taught. We now are given the power to continue the message for all time. 

Jesus promises that our faith will:


overcome evil
-create new possibilities to preach the Gospel
-show courage against antagonism
-resist suppression
-heal and strengthen others to believe

These signs will accompany those who believe:

-in my name they will drive out demons,
-they will speak new languages.
-They will pick up serpents with their hands,
-drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.


If we believe and open our hearts to this message, indeed, it is a day for trumpet blasts! Here are a few from one of my favorite triumphal pieces! If the Apostles had only had trumpets, they might have played something like this for the Lord as He ascended 🙂

Poetry: Ascension Sonnet – Malcolm Guite

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.

We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,

Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,

His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed.

Music: Psalm 47 – Rory Cooney

Psalm 47: Imagining God

Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 23, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 47 which describes God as a King ascending to the throne amid shouts of joy.

God mounts the throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.

Psalm 47: 6-7

This description reminds me of a pageant like the recent inauguration, where fanfare horns announce the President’s arrival. For the psalmist, the horn might have been a shofar.

It’s a beautiful and triumphant way to imagine what God might be like. But that’s all it is – an image, a product of human imagination. Like the psalmist, we all engage in that creative effort – we picture God. We draw God out of the media stored in our own hearts and spirits.


The freedom we have to imagine God can be both a blessing and a curse. As a blessing, it has allowed us to create tender, triumphant, and splendid constructs of an otherwise unimaginable Love. As a curse, it has given us the power to distort God’s image for our own selfish ends.


It is an awesome power. Even the great Saint Augustine struggled with it:

Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne

What art Thou then, my God? 
Most highest, most good, 
most potent, most omnipotent; 
most merciful and most just; 
most hidden and most present; 
most beautiful and most strong, 
standing firm and elusive, 
unchangeable and all-changing; 
never new, never old; 
ever working, ever at rest; 
gathering in and [yet] lacking nothing; 
supporting, filling, and sheltering;
creating, nourishing, and maturing; 
seeking and [yet] having all things. 
And what have I now said,

my God, my life, my holy joy? 
or what says anyone who speaks of Thee? 
And woe to the one who keeps silent about you, 
since many babble on and say nothing.


Praying with Psalm 47, I consider my own “photo album” of the Holy One. I talk with God about those pictures. I ask to know and love God more clearly, so that, made in God’s image, I may more honestly reflect it.

God has given us the ultimate self-portrait in the Person of Jesus who is:

… the image of the unseen God,
the firstborn over all creation.

Colossians 1: 15

Poetry: from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 

Have among yourselves the same attitude
that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2: 6-11

Music: Philippians Hymn – John Michael Talbot