Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Acts 1:1-11
Ps 47
Eph 1:17-23
Mt 26:16-20

With the Ascension of the Lord we are reminded that the Easter Season is rapidly coming to an end.  In ten days, on the Feast of Pentecost, we will celebrate the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to send the Holy Spirit, after His return to the Father.  The following day we will resume ordinary time. 

We have been hearing readings from the Acts of the Apostles, the early history of the church, for several weeks now.  Acts of the Apostles was written by the Evangelist Luke, which explains the meaning of the line, "In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, . . "  In Acts. the implied second book, we hear much of what the apostles did and taught following Jesus' ascension to the Father and the descent of the Holy Spirit.  Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is also a prayer for us, gathered here today in this place. The prayer touches on the mission Jesus gave his disciples in the gospel reading.  

“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. . . . that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory . . . and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe,”  Paul is praying that the Ephesians, he is praying that we will accept and nurture the gift we were given.

As creatures with free will, we are, of course, given a choice, or perhaps it is better to say we are given the freedom to choose whether to accept those gifts, or to reject them out of hand.  There are only two possible choices: Yes or no. There is no gray. There is only acceptance or rejection. 

Jesus' mission to the apostles was plainly stated, “Go . . . and make disciples of all nations. . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

We make disciples of all nations and of all people through our presence, through preaching and teaching, and through the example of caring for others in schools, hospitals, and orphanages.  And most importantly, we make disciples of all nations it through the celebration of the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Christ on the altar.  Not a symbol but the real presence. That must be the core of our preaching and our lives.   

This short gospel passage, a mere four verses, ends with one of the most consoling verses in the entire New Testament, "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.".”

What more can we want?  What more can we desire?

". . .  behold, I am with you always, 
until the end of the age." 

The Archdiocese of Boston is one of the few in the U.S. that continues to observe the Ascension on Thursday, forty days after the Resurrection, with Easter Sunday counting as day number one.  Thus, the homily is up today.  Will post the homily for the 7th Sunday of Easter on Sunday.  

The photo below is from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  I had been on retreat at St. Anselm's Benedictine Abbey in D.C.  It is only a short walk from the Abbey to the Shrine  I availed myself of the opportunity two or three times during the eight days.  This was taken at the entrance to the adoration chapel.  I think it speaks for itself. 

 +Fr. Jack SJ, MD

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