Spread the Word!
In this short homily for The Ascension of the Lord, Year A, Father Hanly reminds us the salvation of the world is now in our hands.
Readings for the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, Year A
- First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
- Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
- Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
Today is a special day, the celebration of the Ascension of Jesus our Lord into heaven.
I’m sure you all remember that after Jesus died on the cross, he was buried in the tomb of a friend. And everybody who loved him went into mourning and shock.
Of course, the rest of the story you know well.
After his resurrection, the Risen Lord appears a number of times to his disciples under a variety of circumstances. His final appearance is his leading them back to Galilee where, in happier days, he had preached the Gospel and formed his little company of disciples to continue his work.
Now he brings them to a mountain top to say goodbye.
But, of course, to a mountain top! Are not the mountain tops the places where vows are taken, sacred covenants exchanged, holy promises made and where people reach out to touch God?
Remember in the days long past, when Moses led the Children of Israel to Mt. Sinai where the sacred Covenant with God was carved in stone.
And it was on the hill-top of Calvary where Jesus, the Messiah, offered himself on the cross, to gain for us all eternal life.
His mission accomplished, the Son returns today to his Father in triumphant glory and a warm embrace. And the whole world changes.
There is a charming story often told about Jesus when he returns home to heaven’s gates.
The Archangel Gabriel greets him at the door and welcomes him saying: “Back so soon?”
Jesus replies, “Yes, I wanted to stay longer, but they crucified me.”
Gabriel’s reply: “Ah, then your mission was a failure!”
“Well, not exactly,” Jesus says. “Before I left, I trained a whole group of followers to carry on my work.”
“Oh?” says Gabriel, “And what if they fail, too?”
Jesus ponders for a moment, then shrugs his shoulders and replies: “But I have no other plans.”
The story is plain and simple and directed at us here today: Jesus says to us, “It’s your turn now. It’s all in your hands now. I have no other plans.”
But then Jesus does add this: “My little children, don’t be afraid. You are not alone. I am with you all days even to the end of the world!”
We assume our mission in full knowledge that Jesus has not left us, but remains with us as a constant presence to direct and to guide us until his work is done.
Without his presence, the mission would be folly; with his presence, all things are possible, even the salvation and healing of the whole world.