In 13 Today's Church on 2016/05/29 at 12:00 AM
  • With today’s celebration of our Lord’s ascension into Heaven, the last act of our redemption has now been completed.
  • Since Holy Thursday night when our Lord’s suffering began, the Church has immersed Herself in Christ’s Paschal Mystery, which is the mystery of our redemption.
  • Through His suffering, death on the cross, resurrection and ascension into Heaven, Jesus has redeemed us and made salvation possible. He has opened up for us the way to Heaven.
  • Today we witness our Lord passing through the veil separating heaven and earth. He does this not to obscure Himself from us, not to abandon us, but to lead us deeper into the mysteries of our faith.
  • In His Ascension Jesus gives us a foretaste of what awaits us who believe in Him. The Ascension is a foreshadowing of that divine life to which we are all called and for which we were all made.
  • Moreover, through His Son’s Ascension into Heaven, our heavenly Father desires to draw us all closer to Himself. As such, the Ascension of our Lord is our glory and our hope!
  • Yet, is there not some sadness in our hearts as well, a sadness that surely the apostles must have felt in the loss of Christ’s physical presence on earth?
  • Certainly, any sadness at the thought of not having our Lord physically present is a sign of our great love for Him, and so our sadness is not misplaced. It is an endearing trait of humanity that we easily become attached to those whom we love.
  • Yet even though any sadness we feel is not misplaced, we must not give our sadness pride of place in our hearts today, for ultimately today is a day of great rejoicing and a day of mission.
  • Last Sunday Holy Mother Church invited us to begin meditating upon the heavenly realities with Jesus’ revelation in the Gospel that He would be returning to the Father. Today, we see this Gospel promise fulfilled.
  • Jesus returns to our heavenly Father in order that He might prepare a place for us. It is for this reason that we must rejoice!
  • When we were baptized we became members of the Body of Christ. In the mystery of our faith that we celebrate today, we see our Lord ascending, body and soul, into the glories of Heaven.
  • As we are members of Christ’s body through baptism, today’s feast teaches us so very clearly that Heaven is our true home as well!
  • But just because our true home is in Heaven, this does not mean that our lives here on earth are meaningless. To the contrary, our earthly lives have a purpose, and therefore they should not be lived thoughtlessly or in vain.
  • The Acts of the Apostles, from which we hear today, tells us that before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus told His disciples that they are to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.
  • And 2000 years later, we – the Church, the Body of Christ – are the inheritors of this message. Thus, if we hope to follow our Lord into the glories of Heaven, then we must be willing to live our lives on earth as witnesses to Him. This is our mission.
  • We must be witnesses to His power and glory. We must be witnesses to the fact that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. But most importantly, as Christians we are called to witnesses to Christ’s love and mercy.
  • You see, my dear brothers and sister, our whole life on earth should be undertaken and lived with the understanding that we have been created for Heaven.
  • Yet, to go to Heaven, we must do our best to be like Christ. And to be like Christ, we must try to fulfill His mission here on earth, which is to bring salvation to all mankind.
  • This mission of salvation has been entrusted to the entire Church, not just to the bishops, priests, and religious.
  • While bishops, priests, and religious exercise a particular role of leadership, teaching, and sanctification within the Church, it is you, the laity, who are uniquely suited to carry Christ’s message of salvation into the world at large.
  • Carrying this message of salvation to the world does not necessarily entail traveling to the ends of the earth, preaching on street corners, or enduring the hardships and rigors that missionaries of old faced.
  • For most of us, sharing in the mission of the Church to bring the message of salvation to all mankind is completed quietly through the normal course of everyday life.
  • In the way that you go about your daily lives: in your studies or work, in your associations with others, in your caring for your home and your family, you can be a very effective witness to the glory, power, truth, beauty, love and mercy of our Lord.
  • It begins by simply living in union with Christ and His Church: through prayer, through the sacraments, and through the Mass. We unite ourselves now with the Lord and His Body, the Church, by uniting ourselves to His holy will in humble obedience.
  • In this union with the Lord, we discover the courage and charity to be His true disciples in this dark world of ours.
  • True discipleship requires that we faithfully and lovingly fulfill the tenets of our Catholic faith, and obediently submit ourselves to the unchanging teachings of the Church. Doing these things very naturally makes us witnesses to a power higher than ourselves.
  • We further implement our discipleship by exercising the virtues of generosity, patience, magnanimity and gentleness with others. Being quick to lend a helping hand to those in need and a ready forgiveness to who have wronged us is a great way to manifest to love of Jesus.
  • Furthermore, being willing to speak the truths that Christ has taught us and that have been enshrined in the teachings of His Church, and doing so even to the point of persecution, makes us His true witnesses.
  • Lastly, being willing to suffer – even to the point of death – rather than go against our Lord in any way, or being willing to suffer and do penance for the sake of others, perhaps makes us the best witnesses of all and unites us intimately to the suffering and Sacred Heart of our Lord.
  • Today, we witness our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. As Jesus ascends body and soul into Heaven, He shows us that Heaven is not some philosophical abstraction. It is not a figment of our collective imagination. It is not a myth. The Ascension of our Lord shows us that Heaven is real!
  • Therefore, let us all live our lives as true witnesses and disciples of Jesus Christ so that all mankind may one day enjoy the glories of Heaven.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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