Homily Ascension of the Lord Year C: (Mother’s Day USA) Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
· Acts 1:1-11;
· Ps 47:2-3, 6-9;
· Eph 1:17-23 or Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23
· Luke 24:46-53
Ascension with Love!
In different parts of the world, including Nigeria, 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.
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.” Today is an ascension of love! We learn today how to rise above hatred and violence!
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, everyone was at the foot of the Cross. With his resurrection and appearances many, including the doubting Thomas also came to belief in Christ and finally was able to say, My Lord and My God.”
Today’s readings testify to God’s work in Christ Jesus. The work of love and forgiveness. In Luke’s gospel account of the Ascension Jesus reminds his disciples of what his mission of suffering- death and resurrection and ascension, was all about. He encourages them to spread on the good news fearlessly to all part of the world. The good news of mercy and tolerance. As he returns to his father, the promise of the father, the Holy Spirit will be sent to strengthen them on this mission. In Luke’s account, today’s Gospel, 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 (Heb 9:24-28; 10:19-23).
Similar account is presented in the first reading, Acts of the Apostles (1:1-11), and confirmed by Paul in the Second reading, Ephesians 1:17-23. In all these scriptural passages, one thing is common: 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 sacrifices in the earthly sanctuaries.
Ordinarily, we find this unwavering love and trust most often in a loving mother- son relationship. Thank God today is mother’s day! 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. They give everything they have to protect and raise their kids. This is who God is express in the events of Christ.
In a world that we live today where religious extremism, Boko Haram, Isis, radical herdsmen, intolerance, violence, redefining the meaning “family” values, have become the order of the day, the question of how we respond to Christ’s love, becomes very urgent.
Children and parents can do this by returning to that initial parent-children relations stress in the Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis- the need to learn and re-listen again to those family stories in the Bible- Abraham and family, Tobit and Family, Ruth and family, Joseph, Mary and family!
Our Politicians, leaders at every level, and law makers in every nation can do this; can respond to Christ’s teaching love, can rise above pettiness, injustices, bigotry, divisiveness, by returning to the basics of politics- “the prudence search for the common good,” (John Paul II) - the good of our children, the Chibok schoolgirls, men, women and children, their freedom to worship, to go to school, security, and the good of their fundamental human rights!
However, 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- which reflects who God is by going to the cross on our behalf, raised from the death, and today ascended into heaven! May we also pray for the grace to ascend with Christ through how we daily love and relate our neighbors!