The Ascension of the Lord, A
Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; Eph 1:17-23; Mt 28:16-20
(Scriptures included after homily)
How do we describe ‘the indescribable’ in words and concepts that our limited human minds can make any kind of sense of? We hear words in the Scriptures like power and might, hope and glory, the ‘clouds of heaven’ and the ‘end of the age.’ We hear phrases like ‘washed in blood,‘ ‘death to sin,’ and ‘eternal life,’ and we still might wonder what it all means. Even the Apostles, who were with Jesus every day, had the same kinds of questions.
Imagine trying to describe your smartphone,
or the internet to a child of the second century.
And so it is with the Ascension of our Lord.
But if we step back, just for a few moments, maybe we’ll find that there really IS some sense to it all. At the risk of getting personal or philosophical, aside from the great Mysteries of our Faith, I’ve always had a keen fascination with Light and Time.
Light, because we can’t see without it! And seeing is actually pretty awesome: between the colors and the movements, the shadows and all the beautiful people, I just can’t imagine life without light.
And Time, well time is where we can get pretty philosophical if we’re not careful. But to make it as simple as possible: if we spend all of our time dwelling on the past, well, then we’ll miss all of the wonders of the present. And if we spend all of our time worrying about the future, then, in the blink of an eye, we’ll actually be there, and maybe ‘there‘ is not actually where we were meant to be!
So when we really get down to it, even though living in the extremes of time might not be, all that good, an occasional review of the past could be useful for keeping us on track, just as an occasional pondering of the future could help us set our sights on where we are going – as long as we never lose focus on the NOW!
You see, the events and the things of the Now
can only make sense through the reflections of the past
and in consideration of the future.
And so it is with the Ascension of the Lord . . .
In itself, it makes no sense. But in the perspective of God’s great ‘Plan of Salvation’, it makes perfect sense. And it’s all about Light and Time. So let’s go back in time, just for a quick reflection.
In the beginning of OUR time, out of the darkness, God created mankind FOR the light. But mankind was not strong enough, in himself to overcome the darkness. And thus, he cast himself into that darkness, to slowly grow over time. And none of it made any sense to him.
Yet, through it all, there would be pokes and prods, and glimmers of hope that God was still watching over them; miracles, if you will; “angel rays of light shining through the clouds of darkness.”
And when the “end of that age” was complete, there was a “New Birth.” We call it The Incarnation – God became man. Out of the darkness of Mary’s womb, just as out of the darkness of Noah’s ark, just as out of the darkness of Moses’ tabernacle, and our Tabernacle, NEW LIFE was created. Life that could not have been possible, if it wasn’t for it’s growth through the darkness: just like the egg before the chick or the cocoon before the butterfly!
Jesus came to show us the Way out of the past, out of the darkness, and into the light! And He did that precisely by entering into the darkness Himself.
How do we describe a Smart-phone to a child of the second century?
We SHOW her.
And that’s exactly what Jesus came to do! He taught us with words. He healed us with actions. And He loved everyone, even His enemies! And when the “end of that age” was complete, Jesus moved from our darkness of sin and death, into His own.
How do you explain the unexplainable?
You SHOW them! . . .
By His Resurrection, Jesus showed us that beyond the shadow of a doubt, beyond the darkness of the tomb, there is a Light, there is true LIFE beyond death.
And yet, there was more to it than just that indescribable Resurrection of Jesus. If that was the end of the story, then Jesus would be walking with us today, and there would be no death. But when we move out of the past and into the Now, we find that the darkness of OUR world is still here. All we need do is pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV. It’s all around us: poverty, crime, war and attitudes – all stemming from a lack of love.
You see, Jesus had one final mission in His Resurrected Life, back in the darkness of our world. It was the poke, the prod, the glimmer of a Candle passed on to us. He showed us that out of our darkness, that Candle can become a hundred Suns of brightness, IF we pass it on to others.
Jesus left the spark of His Divinity within us. The “Candle,” if you will, of LOVE. And now it’s up to us to grow out of the darkness and into the Light that awaits us all. And the only way we can grow is by passing on that Candle. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Love everyone, just as He did.
Then in His final exit, out of the darkness of His Journey, Jesus Ascended back into the Light and the Glory of His Father. But now, instead of just Creator and Redeemer, Jesus is our Intercessor
with the Father, as well. He is our Salvation in the Now, and our Hope for the Future.
For, you see, His Ascension IS ‘A new birth,‘ ‘The end of an age,’ ‘Washed in blood (paid for us),‘ ‘for eternal life.’ And in His Ascension, He did not leave us orphans, because He will be with us always, through the Holy Spirit living within us.
And we will not dwell on the past.
And we will not worry about the future.
All we need do is Follow Him
and Shine His Light in the world!
Scripture Readings for the Mass of 06-01-14
The Ascension of the Lord, Cycle A
First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
In the first book, Theophilus, 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 whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with the them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”
Responsorial Psalm Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
R God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
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.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy; the LORD, amid trumpet blasts. Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praise.
For king of all the earth is God; sing hymns of praise. God reigns over the nations, God sits upon his holy throne.
Second Reading: Eph 1:17-23
Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. 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. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.
Gospel: Mt 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
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