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Ascension: A call to a deepening of Christ’s presence in our lives

Homily for Ascension Sunday year C 2013

  1. AscensionToday we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. We celebrate today this one significant and important article of our faith which we profess and declare every Sunday when we say the Apostles’ Creed or the  Nicene Creed. We celebrate this truth of our  Christian faith when we pray the Glorious mystery of the Most Holy Rosary. But what does the Ascension of the Lord mean? What does it mean for us?

  2. Christ has ascended into heaven. This is one truth of our faith that we proclaim. However, it doesn’t mean Jesus has left us altogether aboard the heaven-ward rocket. It also doesn’t mean that God has now gone and has left us on our own. One way to understand ascension is that it is a transformation, a deepening of the physical presence of Jesus with us (Immanuel) into a spiritual presence within us. We may no longer see him in person, but we can still see him in persons, in each one of us. This means therefore that he is not gone altogether but rather we are now the bearers of his presence. We are now the reflection of his light to others and to the world. This is what it means when he said in our first reading today: ‘[You] will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1:1-11)

  3. If Ascension then is the deepening of the presence of Christ in our lives through His Holy Spirit then it is a call for us to deepen our relationship with him. To deepen this relationship we need to look in ourselves the presence of Christ in our lives. But how can we perceive his presence?

  4. I have already mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating. This is not from me but from the Second Vatican Council. Every time we celebrate the liturgy Jesus Christ is truly present in many ways: as in the Word being read, in the Assembly, in the Minister and in the Eucharistic elements consecrated and received (Vatican Council II– Sacrosanctum Concilium 7 & 8). He is also truly present in the Sacraments we celebrate.

  5. But his presence is not only perceivable in all that I mentioned above. In our daily living and daily lives too, Christ is always present. Sometimes we don’t think of this, or we doubt on this because of some experiences we have that would lead us to believe that God is not really present in our particular situation or circumstances. But he is just always there. He stands true to his promise not to leave us orphans. ‘And now’, he said in our gospel today (Lk 24:46-53), ‘I am sending down to you what the Father has promised– the Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit, the fulfilment of his promise, is in us, working through us and keeping us alive. Even if at times we feel he is not around, he is there regardless of how we feel about it.

  6. However, we can only perceive this through the eyes of faith. Yes, we need  faith to see this. We need to pray for this gift because only with faith that we can say just as my friend shared with me the other day: ‘I thank God for my faith because this keeps me up when I am at the lowest moment of my life.’ Wow!  What an amazing statement of faith. What a fantastic way of acknowledging God’s presence in our lives. Through faith this friend of mine has really experienced in himself the beautiful experience of the presence of God in his life.

  7. With faith we can see God’s presence in each aspect of our life and in our experiences. Fr. Pat O’Sullivan, SJ, the spiritual director in the seminary in Melbourne, wrote something about this. In his book Prayer and Relationships: Staying Connected- An Ignatian Perspective, Fr. O’Sullivan noted some signs of the presence of Christ in our daily living. One sign of Christ’s presence, Fr. Pat would say is when: ‘We are of service to others, and keep on serving them in spite of their lack of appreciation and acknowledgement.’ [p.79] And I would add, when we  serve without thinking of a reward or a compensation for what we are doing. I give you a beautiful example of this presence of Christ in our lives. In the Philippines there is a wish-granting television program which I loved watching every now and then. In this particular episode, an actor has disguised himself as a victim of a car accident. Part of his face was covered with bandage and he was walking with a pair of crutches. His task was to search for a good Samaritan. His mission place was at the bus terminal or bus station. And just imagine it, it was very busy, people coming and going with all their luggage and baggage, buses and all. He approached several people for help to find his aunt’s place in the city of Cebu. Because of how he looked, many people ignored  him including a nun- in her habit for God’s sake. She thought he is just after her money. But then one security guard-on duty arrived at the scene and offered help. The guard went and asked permission from his supervisor that he’d take some hours off from work to accompany the young man to his aunt’s house. While in the cab, the guard said: ‘If your aunt is not in the place where we are going you can live with me in the house where I am.’ Even when the actor indicated he might not have enough money for the fare, the guard offered to pay for the fare of the cab. Such is a moving act that it made me shed a tear. It strengthens my hope and affirms my faith. It energises me to realize that in our world today, despite the apparent materialism, selfishness, greed and violence, there are still people who are empowered by the presence of Christ by loving and caring for one another.  This is again what Fr. Pat O’ Sullivan  described as another sign of the presence of Christ in our daily lives. He noted that Christ is truly present when ‘There is a feeling of connecting with another person, or a group; or a feeling of belonging as we admire the face of nature, as in a beautiful sunset.’ (P. O’Sullivan- Prayer and Relationships,79-80). This is just what really happens in that beautiful gesture of the security guard in our story above.

  8. In the light of today’s celebration of Mothers’ Day we must not discount the fact that Christ is present in all mothers too and in all good things they do as a mother to a family or as they fulfil their responsibilities as mothers. Christ is present in all mothers in the way they cared, nurtured, nursed, supported and loved their children even if times are hard and challenging. So today, we honour all mothers and thank them for their sacrifices and for being a carrier of the loving care of Jesus Christ to the children, to the weak, to the vulnerable and to the dependent. Thank you all mothers for your love.

  9. So today as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Ascension as well as Mothers’ Day, we thank God for our faith. We thank God for the mystery of the Ascension and for the faith and hope he gives to us, which assure that though Jesus might have gone physically, he is still present with us as he was. Let us also thank God for his gift of the Holy Spirit that prolongs and sustains the presence of Christ in our lives. For our part let this also be our prayers that we would witness our faith in a way that enables others to see Christ in and through us, and thus drawing them to Christ as well. Amen.  

Happy mothers’ day!

 

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One comment on “Ascension: A call to a deepening of Christ’s presence in our lives

  1. […] Ascension: A call to a deepening of Christ’s presence in our lives (junjunfaithbook.com) […]

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