HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

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HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD

BISHOP RENE HENRY GRACIDA

THE READINGS

Lectionary: 58

Reading 1

ACTS 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,

I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught

until the day he was taken up,

after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit

to the apostles whom he had chosen.

He presented himself alive to them

by many proofs after he had suffered,

appearing to them during forty days

and speaking about the kingdom of God.

While meeting with them,

he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,

but to wait for “the promise of the Father

 about which you have heard me speak;

for John baptized with water,

but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,

“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He answered them, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, but for my Father to make them known, he told them.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,

throughout Judea and Samaria,

and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were looking on,

he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

  While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,

suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

They said, “Men of Galilee,

why are you standing there looking at the sky?

This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven

will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Responsorial Psalm

PS 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

R.  God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

or:

R. Alleluia.

All you peoples, clap your hands,

shout to God with cries of gladness,

for the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,

is the great king over all the earth.

  R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

or:

R. Alleluia.

God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;

the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.

Sing praise to God, sing praise;

sing praise to our king, sing praise.

R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

or:

R. Alleluia.

For king of all the earth is God;

sing hymns of praise.

God reigns over the nations,

God sits upon his holy throne.

R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

or:

Alleluia.

Reading 2

EPH 1:17-23

   Brothers and sisters:

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.

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,

that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,

what are the riches of glory

in his inheritance among the holy ones,

and what is the surpassing greatness of his power

for us who believe,

in accord with the exercise of his great might,

which he worked in Christ,

raising him from the dead

and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,

  far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,

and every name that is named

not only in this age but also in the one to come.

And he put all things beneath his feet

and gave him as head over all things to the church,

which is his body,

the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Alleluia

MT 28:19A, 20B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Go and teach all nations, says the Lord;

I am with you always, until the end of the world.

Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel

MT 28:16-20

  The eleven disciples went to Galilee,

to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.

When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

Then Jesus approached and said to them,

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father,

and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

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

THE HOMILY

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,

and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,

for the Ascension of Christ you Son

is our exaltation,

and where the Head has gone before in glory

the Body is called to follow in hope.

Through 

our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. 

Amen.

(The Collect)

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The first thing we must acknowledge about the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ is that it is a mystery.  It is a mystery in the theological sense of that word, not in the popular sense.

In the theological sense the word mystery signifies a reality that is 99.99% beyond our human intelligence’s capability to understand it.

The .01% that we can understand is made possible by divine revelation, otherwise we could not even know that much.

Modern science and technology tell us something about a body “going up” into space.  An astronaut rides his rocket into space and into earth orbit.  As long as the flight capsule he is in has energy with

which to continue its orbit indefinitely he will continue to orbit the earth indefinitely.

But, of course it is not possible to have eternal energy and so eventually he will return to earth.

If our astronaut exits our earth gravitational field and exits his capsule he will  freeze solid and float in space until the gravitational pull of our sun pulls him into  the sun’s fire and incinerates him.

What was different about Jesus’s Ascension “into the clouds” is that he left the earth in his glorified body which, as we know from his having entered rooms after his resurrection by passing through closed doors (John 20:19) and was not subject to gravity.

(12)

This .01% helps us to understand somewhat the spiritual significance of the Ascension of the Lord.

For instance:

Had Christ remained on earth, sight would have taken the place of faith. In heaven, there will be no faith because His followers will see; there will be no hope, because they will possess; but there will be love for love endures forever!

(Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

Similarly, had Jesus remained earth, as we heard in the first reading of today’s Mass,

many people, including his own apostles and disciples were frequently urging him to assume the kingship of Israel.

“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” they asked. And he responded:

““It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, but for my Father to make them known, he told them.”

If Jesus had remained on earth after rising from the dead, the faith of His disciples would have still been focused on life in this world rather than on the next.

 There was a heresy in the early Church called Monophysitism. (This name came from two Greek words: mono = “one” and physis = “nature.”) This heresy held that once Jesus had accomplished the work of our salvation and returned to heaven, He cast off the human nature He took from the Virgin Mary, and retained only the divine nature He had from all eternity. If our Lord had done this, then He would not have had

a glorified humanity which would be the pattern for our glorified humanity in heaven. Furthermore, Jesus, keeping His human nature in heaven as the Son of Man along with His divine nature as the Son of God, retained the greatest sign of His incomparable love for us because He remains one of us, one of our human family, for all eternity.

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Let us pray!

Almighty God,

Eternal Father,

by rising to you in his glorified body,

Your Son, Jesus Christ,

gave us the assurance that if we keep his commandments, the greatest of which is the commandment to love, we shall follow him in our own glorified bodies to share eternally in the life which unites You, Your Son and the Holy Spirit.

Grant that we may be helped by the Holy Spirit to so live our life here on earth as to merit that which Your Son has promised us.

This we ask through faith, hope and love.

Amen

 

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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One Response to HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

  1. The most comforting words of this homily, for me, are the words:
    “the Son of God, retained the greatest sign of His incomparable love for us because He remains one of us, one of our human family, for all eternity. ” I cannot put into words the Joy that this imparts to my soul! There are no words….only silent adoration of the humility of God!

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