jesus ascends into heaven and he hands off his mission to his church for her to continue in his name
Homily for Ascension Thursday ©, June 2nd, 2019 (Sunday):
We are here to celebrate Jesus’s Ascension into heaven. This is a holy day of obligation. Holy Mother Church is wise to require us to celebrate this. This is an incredible event in Jesus’s life and our Church’s life. Jesus’s Ascension brings together three events which give us, in our church, our Christian and Catholic mission. They are: Jesus’s Resurrection, Jesus’s Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit-Pentecost.
First, let’s talk about Jesus’s Resurrection. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. That is a fact. We declare that on faith. St. Luke’s Gospel emphasizes the physical reality of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. Jesus Christ’s Resurrection Body is real. Jesus Christ gave His Apostles and disciples convincing signs that He was alive after His death. Jesus appeared to them several times and continued teaching them the meaning of God’s kingdom. Since these Apostles and disciples have seen, heard, and touched the risen Jesus, they can become faithful, genuine witnesses to Him and His Resurrection. They do. They are martyred for it. They are killed. But they also convince others of the fact of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. We are called to do the same, here today. Jesus Christ’s Resurrection reveals His Humanity AND HIS DIVINITY. Jesus’s Resurrection shows the magnitude of God’s invincible, unconquerable power. God’s power and strength are exercised in His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The Apostles and disciples convert others to this Catholic faith in Jesus Christ-Savior, who lived, died, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, sent the Holy Spirit upon this Church, and will return, someday. We don’t know when. On that point, Jesus tells His Apostles and disciples to ignore those who say the end is near. Do not try to guess what cannot be known.
Second, Jesus ascends into heaven. Jesus’s Ascension concludes His Resurrection appearances on earth to His Apostles and disciples. St. Luke ends his gospel with Jesus’s priestly blessing to His Apostles and disciples as He ascends into Heaven. Jesus’s blessing hands off His mission of forgiving sins, healing ills, and preaching the Gospel to His Apostles and disciples, TO HIS CHURCH, THIS ONE. Jesus also promises to help them, and us here today who are to carry on this same mission. Jesus ascends into heaven to be enthroned as king. He is enthroned at God’s right hand. Today’s psalm is an enthronement psalm which celebrates Yahweh’s kingship. We are to praise Him. To “enthrone” means “to seat ceremonially on a throne,” “to exalt,” “to raise in character, power, and/or rank,” “to elevate in estimation or by praise,” “to glorify.” All of those fit Jesus. Jesus Christ reigns over all the cosmic forces from His heavenly throne. God has placed everything and everyone under Jesus’s control and has made Him the Head of the Church, which, as His Mystical Body, completes Jesus Christ’s being. Jesus Christ fills all that exists, the whole cosmos. All of this happens when Jesus ascends into Heaven to be enthroned.
Third, Jesus will send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to His Apostles and disciples, who will teach the faith in His Church, this one, established on the rock of St. Peter. Jesus will baptize His followers at Pentecost with the Holy Spirit. Then the Apostles and disciples will continue Jesus’s mission of healing and preaching. The Holy Spirit will empower the Apostles and disciples to do so. The Apostles and disciples pay homage to Jesus as He ascends into heaven. The Scripture Commentary I looked at for this says this is the first time the word “homage” appears in the Gospel to show reverence to Jesus Christ. They return joyfully to Jerusalem and continually praise God in the Temple. They rejoice that Jesus Christ is returning to His Father and they expect something great to happen. It will, the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
These three events coalesce to empower us here today to continue Jesus Christ’s saving mission in His Church. Here is one final comment. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost Sunday is a real event in our lives. It will be a real reception of the Holy Spirit in our souls to renew Jesus’s Mystical Body, His Church, WHICH WE ARE PART OF HERE, TODAY. May we pray to receive well the Holy Spirit so that we may witness our one and only Savior, Jesus Christ, to our loved ones, our communities, to the vineyard of the world during whatever time is left before Jesus Christ comes again.
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
October 2, 2016