Homily of the Ascension of the Lord Year C: (Mother’s Day USA) Fr .Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-9; Eph 1:17-23 or Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23 and Luke 24:46-53
Lifted up to love and make known the Gospel
In different parts of the world, including the ecclesiastical Provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha and Philadelphia here in the States, the Solemnity of Ascension was celebrated on Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter. In other places including our Archdiocese (Milwaukee) here, Ascension is celebrated today, the Seventh Sunday of Easter. And it is also a mother’s day in the United States.
First of all today's celebration is a culmination of the events of the Paschal mysteries of Christ (recall his birth-ministry-passion-death-resurrection and Ascension)! Remember, during the Passion Week, it was evident that the death of Christ was never going to be a defeat, but a victory, exaltation, a glorification. He long foretold in John 12:32, “when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw everyone to myself.”
On that Cross, Christ stood tall. He rose above the pettiness of those who had anything to do with His persecution. He drew to himself the Jews, the Gentiles, men and women, including, the Roman soldiers, the Beloved Disciples, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, every one was at the foot of the Cross. With his resurrection and appearances many also including the doubting Thomas came to belief in Christ and finally was able to say, My Lord and My God.”
The readings of today continue to testify to God’s work in Christ Jesus. In Luke’s gospel account of the Ascension Jesus reminded his disciples of what his mission of suffering- death and resurrection and ascension, was all about. He encouraged them to spread on the good news fearlessly to all part of the world. As he return to his father, the promise of the father, the Holy Spirit will be sent to strengthen them on this mission. Luke tells us that Christ blessed them before he “was lifted up into heaven” where he took his seat at the right hand of God, presiding at the heavenly sanctuary. The Epistle to the Hebrews also affirms this ( Heb 9:24-28;10:19-23). Luke presents the same testimony in the first reading, Acts of the Apostles (1:1-11), confirmed by Paul in the Second reading, Ephesians 1:17-23.
In all these the love of God is at work. Love in the very Incarnation; love in his ministry, love behind the sacrifice of himself on the cross, rather than the levitical bulls and goats in the earthly sanctuary. In the heavenly sanctuary he continues to minister with love. This love demands a response from us. It requires a response of love, sincerity of heart, absolute and unwavering trust in God.
Ordinarily, we find this unwavering love and trust most often in a loving mother- son relationship. This, I think is important as we celebrate our mother’s day today. Think of the 9 months or so pregnancy period, the care and love mothers have for their babies after birth and the unquantifiable investment in raising their kids. This unwavering love of a mother reminds me of a story of a Maltese loving mother who gave birth to conjoin-Siamese baby boys. Any surgery to separate them would result from one baby boy giving up his life for the other. It was a very difficult choice for both parents, especially the mom, who really spoke up, passionately. Her argument was that she loved both children equally, unwaveringly, without partiality.
This is who God is in the events of the paschal mysteries of Christ. He loves us equally. God never disappoint any one who trust in Him. He continues to be at work in us. When we are down he is prepared to lift us up. When we are discouraged he is there to offer us courage. He commissions his disciples to be witnesses throughout Judah, Samaria and ends of the earth.” Christ is indirectly commissioning us today. But this mission is never just been measured by distance. It is measured by faith, hope and love. There is mission to be done in this parish/school and residence home/families. It is measured by hope. It is measured by love. It is measured by the way we imitate Christ, his principles and values, in every circumstances of life.
We are called to be missionaries even onto ourselves, to our children, to our spouses, friends, families and next door neighbors. With his Ascension we are called to transcend faithlessness and continue to pray for our nations to recognize more and more the place of God in our lives, in our politics and homes.
We live in a challenging time that some children, husbands tend to ignore if not abandon their parents, wives or aged moms in nursing homes, without visitation. Sometimes we forget their roles in our lives, in our families. I saw on the TV yesterday an “attaching image” of 2-3 year old boy to a loving mom. The boy was stood up on a stool while being breast fed by the mom. And the argument on media was whether breast feeding was good or not, and to what year. Most impressively said breast feeding is still the best at least in the first year of the baby! I personally was very close to my loving mom . I wonder where I would have been today without mom, who not only breast-fed me, but her overall care, physical/spiritual and unwavering love and upbringing.
Today is the day we want to say thank to all our mothers, in our communities, and homes. Call them. Send them cards. Take them out for dinner. Present them with flowers and learn to imitate their God’s given virtues of care, affection, diligence, and selfless love for all their children without partiality.
Let us also pray that as Christ was lifted up, we may be lifted up in Spirit to be able to love, lift up others , especially the poor, the sick, the aged, and the needy, the less-privileged, and continue to believe and make known the Good News of Christ, in our words and actions, in our homes, families and to the whole world, in every situation in life.