Fr. Rick’s Homily: The Ascension of the Lord

May 12, 2024

Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-9; Eph 1:17-23; Mk 16:15-20

Today:  The annual collection for The Catholic Communication Campaign after Communion.

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” 

The Gospel of Mark today calls us to participate in the great cosmic restoration of the heavens and the earth that Jesus has come to accomplish.  Since the first Adam failed to protect the Garden under his care and dominion, the New Adam will now accomplish the great restoration.  Hence OUR calling to proclaim the gospel to every creature.  God created the world in an order of original justice.

Biblical justice is understood as right relationship with God, right relationship with each other and right relationship with all the rest of creation.

By our baptism (and other Sacraments), we are given the power to do amazing things.  Foremost of these powers might be to ‘see with the eyes of our hearts’ as promised in the second reading today from Ephesians.  This is a different kind of vision.  It’s the ability to see into the order that God had originally planned for creation.  Right relationship.  The current disorder we experience is the result of the woundedness passed on to all of us by Adam and Eve’s first sin.  We lost the ability to see things as they really are.

Most of us will likely not be given the extraordinary tasks of driving out demons, we will likely NOT speak new languages which we have not studied.  We will likely not have any compelling urge to pick up serpents with our hands or drink deadly things just to see if it will kill us.  Although some of us could have the extraordinary charism of healing with the laying on of hands, most of us won’t.

But all of us do have an essential role to play in the great cosmic restoration.  By our Baptism we are members of the Body of Christ whose head is Jesus …who is seated at the right hand of the Father… who has been given rule over ‘every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come’.  We an do all things in Christ who is our head!!

There has got to be a catch to this, right?  There is.  We have to submit our will totally over to the will of the Father as is represented by this image in the sanctuary (pointing to the crucifix).  We have to imitate the life and priorities of Jesus who is our uncorrupted head in heaven.

Humans are the only creatures who have the ability to consciously give our will over to the Father; to offer our very lives back up to God.  Along with this very privileged position, we also have the duty to offer back up all of creation to the Father.  Doing this requires us to be attentive to all the choices we make throughout the day, about how often we remind ourselves that we are actually living in God’s world and that He actually has a plan for us.  Our participation in the great restoration includes our daily attention to how we treat other people and all the rest of God’s creatures.  Everything is connected in some miraculously complex way.  The sciences are regularly discovering the amazing patterns that recur in the many systems of creation.  The term pattern comes from the Latin ‘patr’, meaning ‘father’.  Interesting. 

The better we understand the many patterns in the Father’s Creation, the better we can live in right relationship or original justice.  The better we can be good stewards of the earth…the earth that belongs to God…the earth that is lent to us for our enjoyment and sustenance AND the enjoyment and sustanance of however many generations come after us.

That fact that it is possible to live in right relationship with God, each other and the rest of creation is a big part of the Good News.  We don’t have to be always afraid and violent and greedy and confused.  What if that’s true?!

We don’t have to reinvent the world or start from scratch.  We merely have to enter into a victory that is already won!  Jesus has authority over the whole world.  We just have to follow His instructions.

The past few days I attended several of the events of the Amazing EarthFest that is occurring here in Kanab.  It is scheduled to coincide with Mother’s Day which is appropriate since the earth is our mother … where the seeds of creation are planted and become fruitful.  The many events helped participants learn more about the patterns and systems that exist in our planet and how best to live within the patterns.

One of the documentaries shown at the Festival was about a man of some political prominence (I won’t mention his name because he was a Republican turned Democrat and I don’t want to diminish today’s collection).  Anyway, his lifelong passion for nature, and understanding the vulnerability within the intricate patterns of nature, soon caused him to notice the plight of many vulnerable people and the need for improved race relations and civil rights.  Since he was a religious man, it also occurred to him that attending to vulnerable people and other creatures were also God’s priorities; part of the pattern.  Biblical Justice.  One thing led to another.

The same will happen to anyone who genuinely seeks justice, ‘right relationship’.  We will start to see things as God sees them.  We will ‘see with the eyes of our hearts.’  We will be better stewards of that which does not belong to us, i.e., everything and everybody.

Our rightly ordered lifestyles will be an essential part of our daily participation in the restoration of the universe.  But that is not the full extent of our mission and responsibilities.  Mark’s Gospel today ends with, “So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.  But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.”

This might be the harder part for many of us, the going forth and preaching part.  We actually have to learn how to explain justice to others.  Perhaps to others who speak a different language…whether it be different idioms or different perspectives based on their individual life circumstances.

We usually have to start by establishing friendships or at least cordial and respectful relationships…but we MUST preach.  Our baptism requires and enables us to do so.

Today’s bulletin features some different websites to help guide us in our care of the vulnerable, whether they be preborns, new borns, older borns or any variety of species that fall under our care.  Take a look at the different opportunities and make your mother proud about your role in the cosmic restoration.

Also, please consider the following reflection questions which are also featured in the bulletin.

  1.  How is my life different due to the Sacrament of Baptism?  What signs of God working in and with me might I acknowledge today?
  2. Does everyone in my life know what Baptism is, why it’s so important, and that they’re invited to pursue being baptized – or to live out their baptism more intentionally, joyfully and fruitfully?