The Ascension of the Lord
May 28, 2017
Reading 1ACTS 1:1-11
Responsorial PsalmPS 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
- (6) God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
Reading 2EPH 1:17-23
AlleluiaMT 28:29A, 20B
Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;
I am with you always, until the end of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Homily— May 27 & 28, 2017
This weekend I was able to concelebrate the Mass for our two transitional deacons—Jacob Rouse and Andrew Upah on Friday night and then on Saturday morning the ordination to priesthood of Dennis Conway, Ralph Davis, Kevin Earleywine, Andrew Marr and Austin Wilker. It was great to see them ordained and to remember that was me 41 years ago!!
The first reading opens with our author making reference to his first book, the Gospel according to Luke, which is also dedicated to Theophilus, a man whose name translates as “a lover of God.” Luke joins the story himself in Acts 16:11, accompanying the apostle Paul when his ministry takes him to Europe for the first time. Tradition tells us that Luke stays with Paul until the day of Paul’s martyrdom in Rome.
This book states some of what Jesus did and taught which includes many proofs that he was alive after all that he had suffered. Here we find that Jesus was with them for forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Jesus wanted them to stay in Jerusalem until they were baptized by the Holy Spirit. They would receive power and would become witnesses for Jesus. Then they saw Jesus lifted up until a cloud took him from their sight. Two angels then said to them why are you looking up at the sky? This Jesus will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven!!—We are still waiting.
Jesus used this forty-day period to teach his disciples about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God will be in conflict with kingdoms of the world. The kingdom of God will be revealed to the world through the church. The apostles need this time with Jesus to understand the purpose of his suffering and the power of that witness before they are sent out to proclaim the saving message of the gospel.
“The meaning of Christ’s Ascension,” wrote Pope Benedict XVI, “expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God.” It would be a mistake to interpret the ascension as “the temporary absence of Christ from the world.” Rather, “we go to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him.” Heaven is a person: “Jesus himself is what we call ‘heaven.’”
Luke gives the only scriptural account of Jesus’ ascension. In each Gospel, Jesus says farewell to his disciples, but only Luke describes his actual departure. Luke calls it an “ascent” a common theme in ancient literature.
The Ascension is a time when the apostles’ worldview changed. They began to see the created world through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and to understand more deeply how it all belonged to God the Father. No wonder the apostles, Mary and other disciples returned to the Upper Room and prayed. The kingdom Jesus came to build will continue. Now the apostles will do the building. We do the building.
Jesus’ ascension is a farewell event during which he gives the gift of himself to us and the gift of us to the world. We encounter his gift of Self to us in prayer, through the goodness of others, in the beauty of creation. We are his gift to the world when we teach others his Good News of salvation by the manner of our Gospel living; when we encourage others in their following Christ and keeping his commandments; when we walk with others who are burdened with sickness, suffering, diminishment, discouragement, loss. In these and many other ways, Jesus’ Presence is lasting and his memory alive—for all time and for all people.
Jesus sends us on a mission today. Jesus did not send his apostles to avenge his death. Jesus did not want vengeance. The mission requires a mature faith. We are sent to go out and to make disciples. Some of you make disciples by having your own children baptized and leading them to the day that they are ready to be confirmed and take an active role in living faith.
How does Christ reveal his continuing presence to you?
How have you gone out on mission with Christ?