Homily (3) the Ascension of Our Lord Year B: Fr .Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-9; Eph 1:17-23 and Mark 16:15-20
Be lifted up to 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.
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, an exaltation, a glorification and a lifting up of the Son of Man, “when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw everyone to myself,” ( John 12:32).
On the Cross, 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, everyone 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 Marks account of the Ascension after Jesus had chatted with his friends and the disciples about faith and continuous spreading of the gospel to all parts of the world fearlessly Jesus, “was lifted up into heaven” where he took his seat at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). Luke presents the same testimony in the first reading, Acts of the Apostles (1:1-11) confirmed by Paul in the Second reading in Eph 1:17-23.
In all these God is at work. He seated Jesus at his right hand to watch over us; to judge the living and the dead. From there he sends us the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth, the Spirit of mission, the spirit of Evangelization. Even after the Ascension, the end of today’s Gospel says, “they went forth and preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them and confirm the word through accompanying signs.”
God never disappoint anyone 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. The mission he commissions us today “go out to the whole world and proclaim the gospel,” is not measured by distance. It is measured by faith. 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. We are called to preach, pray for and lift out our children and friends out of drug abuse? 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.
I was so impressed and up lifted yesterday when a friend of mine in New York, actually called from Arizona asking for prayer for his brother, whom he believe was in a very dark and bad place (state of life)... After listening I offered few words of encouragement and upliftment to the family.
Although Christ has departs, today’s solemnity reminds us that Christ still remains with us in the tabernacle, in the Holy Eucharist, in kinds words we share with our neighbors. He is with us in the passages of the Scripture. He is with us in our schools, in our studies, offices, work places and where we live (here in this residence home). He says, in Matthew 28:19-20 “I am with you always, until the end of the time.”
As Christ lifted up, let us pray at this Mass be lifted up in Spirit to be able to lift up others, especially the poor, the sick, the needy. May we in this changing world continue to believe and make known the Good News of Christ, in our words and actions, in our homes, families and in every situation in life.