12 and 13 May 2018 Ascension B Homily
My sisters and brothers in Christ.
We celebrate today Jesus’ Ascension.
Many beginnings require some endings.
The birth of the church, which we often think of as occurring on Pentecost, will be celebrated next week.
We might ask what had to end before the Apostles and disciples could “become” the church?
Jesus seems to have spent a great deal of time since his resurrection at Easter outlining what his commandments and expectations of the community were and are.
The commandments are to be obeyed.
The commandments have to do with love of Jesus the Son, the Father and our neighbor.
This love is how we can expect to or are expected by Jesus to “remain” in his and the Father’s love.
Disciples, “the faithful”, the members of the community “remaining” in the community appears to have been an issue at the time of the first Christians as it is today.
The feast of the Ascension is not about Jesus migrating to a different place. The Ascension so is about the disciples taking on the very challenging task of leading the community of believers.
In other words, Jesus had to do what every parent eventually must do.
Jesus had to turn over what had been his responsibility prior to his death on the Cross
According to Mark’s Gospel today Jesús gave the following carisms or gifts to his followers:
proclaiming the Gospel,
driving out demons (i.e. conquering sin and darkness),
speaking new languages (as we welcome members to our community who do not speak our language),
picking up serpents (we can not be put off of our responsibility because of fear),
exposing ourselves to what may appear at least to be poison and
laying our hands on the sick so they may recover not only physically but also spiritually.
These are daunting if not impossible tasks.
They are not accomplished by our hiding from our responsibility or trusting in our own cleverness and resourcefulness.
Proclaiming, living, being, the Gospel are tasks that are not accomplished unless we answer a simple question.
The question is asked by the “men in white garments” today in the first reading.
The question is simple, while the giving the answer to the question is quite challenging, to the disciples then and to us, the disciples of today.
The question is:
“Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?”
The feast of the Ascension invites us to be prepared to be Christ present in a world in need of Christ’s farewell gift of forgiveness and peace.
How you and I answer that question really can make for a very
different kind of world.
Jesus came to make the world a place of justice, forgiveness and peace.
May we rise with Jesus the risen Christ to the
challenge to fulfill our baptismal promise,
to do our sworn duty and
to exercise our great privilege of being co workers in God’s Kingdom.