Father Vala’s Ascension (May 24) Homily
Christ is vindicated through his Ascension. He ascends in his human form/body and enters his glory in heaven. His victory of death has brought him to his home.
Someone’s passing is not easy, especially when it is someone dear to us. My mother’s passing was difficult for my family. An earthly relationship had ended for so many who loved her. I had returned to my faith before my mother’s passing, and it was my faith that eased the sadness. For me there was something that awaited her now in her passing from earthly life.
The disciples seeing Jesus leave them. They knew this was part of the plan, and they are not saddened. Neither the account from Acts or Matthew says that they were saddened. They know that Jesus has now changed death and there is a purpose for them in carrying on. Death for those who live their faith leads to glory and victory in eternal life in heaven.
What is interesting is the site: Jerusalem – the place where he was condemned. What was the site of defeat now had become the place of final victory.
Through his Ascension, Christ makes our hope real – he enters heaven to prepare a place for each of us. He confirms that he is the way to life in heaven. For someone who has committed his/her life to following Christ, life in heaven is that ultimate hope. We too will share in that victory when we stay true to our call as Christians in this world. When we are humble and willing to put God and others first.
All that beset and hindered Christ – the mockery, the harsh criticism, the rejection, the sorrow – has not kept him from fulfilling God’s plan for his life. And now, because of his willingness to accept God’s plan for him in humbleness and humility, Christ is exalted. He is also vindicated because his teachings, miracles, kingship are confirmed. He looked to be a failure as he was dying on the Cross, but now he is shown completing and attaining the victory in his glory.
Fulton Sheen: God was pleased with his Son in his sorrows and grief because Christ was doing what was right and just; God is pleased with us when we stay obedient in the midst of our sorrows for doing what is right and just (standing up for our faith); when we suffer for doing what is right and just in God’s eyes, we don’t see those moments as punishment, but, instead, as God calling us to a greater holiness and a desire to give of ourselves to him in more ways.
Through our journey here on earth, in the struggles, we strive for that perfection that will bring us to heaven. We don’t always understand what is happening in life, or we recognize our weakness and sinfulness and feel setback. Even though, that should inspire us to turn to faith and live it out and strive to reach perfection.
We respond by following on that path that Christ puts us on. A path where we don’t always see what is ahead and the road is not always clear; but it is a path that leads us to a right relationship with God and draws us into the mystery of his grace.
It’s easy to let the emotions take over and control our reactions, especially in these days. It is so very important to let Christ work in our lives through the Holy Spirit. This is how we engage in the mystery of our faith: the risen Christ whom we don’t see but is present to us. We can experience simple or small miracles in our lives when we follow the way of the Spirit in patience and by desiring God’s grace to work in and through us. When things are not going our way, we need to desire holiness and pray that God works through those times. When things do not go our way, we can still act and respond not to my own wishes, desires, or demands, but by being faithful obedient to God’s ways.
We have seen or heard of death and tragedy, but that doesn’t mean our hope should be taken away. Christ, thru the Holy Spirit, wants to lead us during these times. He doesn’t want us to feel abandoned. Thru the Holy Spirit Christ is present to us in a mysterious way, but it is a way in which we experience through our response to where God has led us – through the situations or the people we encounter
Like the apostles, we are encouraged to not just stand around looking, but may we ascend now in lifting our hearts (our desires) to God and his call to live the Gospel message and way. May we not squander this time on earth in despair or constant complaining, but instead use our time to spread the kingdom of God and its message. When we rise above the struggles, we too will enter that glory of Christ’s ascension.