Ascension of the Lord
Father Hanly’s homily for Ascension of the Lord, Year B, was delivered before the Commissioning of the Ministers of the Word.
Readings for Ascension of the Lord, Year B
- First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
- Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
- Gospel: Mark 16:15-20
You’re all probably wondering why there’s a very long procession today with twenty extra people. They all look familiar to those who come here a lot.
We have with us today all the English language readers of the parish, from both sides of the parish: from St Margaret’s, of course, and from, I always forget the name of that chapel, Christ the King chapel. It’s because I call it the St Paul’s Hospital chapel. But it isn’t. It’s Christ the King chapel. And for those of you who have never been there, you should go there, because it’s the most beautiful church in all Hong Kong.
Anyhow, they’re gathered here today. They come once a year and it’s because they belong to a special ministry, the Ministry of the Word. And this ministry invites all those who would like to participate in the church’s liturgy here by becoming a Minister of the Word.
It means that these young people, and all those young men and women, they are all reading the scriptures during all the liturgies, not only mass and the sacraments, but also in the paraliturgies all through the year.
They are coming to be commissioned. Each year we commission them and we make an installation of the ministers, which means that they will continue to follow this ministry as faithful servers in the Kingdom of God.
Today’s gospel, I suppose, I will only mention one little story that comes from, I just I read it before I came over here, because we are going to have the installation right away.
But the story goes that Jesus goes up to heaven and he meets Gabriel the angel.
And Gabriel says, “What are you doing up here?”
And he said, “Well, I came back a little early.”
And Gabriel said, “Why?”
“Well,” he said, “they crucified me.”
And then Gabriel says to him, “That means that your mission failed.”
And he said, “No,” he said, “I entrusted my disciples to carry on the mission for me.”
And then Gabriel, being a little cynical, says, “Suppose they fail?”
And Jesus looks and he says, “I’ve got no other plans.”
So, today, we are going to commission, in one way, and draw attention to the fact that the gospel is now preached not by Jesus, not by the Holy Spirit, not by anyone but human beings like you and I who dedicate themselves to become instruments of the Holy Spirit, and instruments of the Word of God, and instruments of the healing and salvation of mankind.
The unfortunate thing about the Resurrection is most people feel that when Jesus goes up there, he stays there.
But we Christians know that Jesus has never really left us.
If the person of Jesus that the disciples grew to know so well enters into eternal life and glory, the coming of the Holy Spirit wakens them up on Pentecost to know that the Risen Lord is with us.
And we are his hands and we are his feet and we are his voice. And we, when we forgive each other and love each other and care for each other and reach out to each other, we are continuing the mission of Jesus in the world.
And now, I think, we’ll begin the commissioning and the installation of the Ministers of the Word.
The installation has just a few parts. It begins with a short allocutio. This is the portrait of the Minister of the Word written by Aelred Rosser who has turned out, through his many years of service, many, many, many, many Ministers of the Word throughout the world.
That is followed by a prayer. And then there’s the presentation of the sacred textbook which we have this time in English and in Chinese, the Word of God in English and Chinese, and we present them to each minister individually.
And then we finish with a Prayer of the Faithful which is directed towards today, directed towards the spread of the Word of God throughout the world.
So we’ll begin by asking all of our ministers here today to rise and…