Feast of the Ascension
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: May 24, 2020
Baptism is not something that we receive, it is about who we become and who we are called to be.
Who are we called to be in the light of our baptism?
In baptism, we are reborn by water and the Spirit, therefore we can truly say we are children of God.
In baptism, we are united to Jesus, so we can say that we are brothers and sisters of Jesus.
Baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we are the people of God who dwell within the heart of God, who is a communion of love.
In baptism, the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us, so that we are to be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
In baptism, we entered the church, to be the body of Christ.
Look into the waters of your baptism, see who you are. Child of God, brother or sister of Jesus, lover living in the Holy Trinity, witness of Jesus, member of the body of Christ. What dignity, what beauty, the incredible mystery of who you are. See who you are, not with pride, but with humble gratitude.
The Feast of the Ascension is also about the followers of Jesus coming to see and live who they were called to be. Jesus sends the Apostles out saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …”
We are disciples of Jesus. We are responsible for continuing the mission of Jesus. To preach the Gos-pel, to bring healing and peace. We are to be instruments of reconciliation, helping each other to be rec-onciled to God and reconciled to one another. Our challenge is to live as disciples of Jesus, sharing in the mission of Jesus.
Someone tells a legend about Jesus’ arrival in heaven. There a vast host of angels greeted him. After the formalities, they asked him whom he had left behind on earth to finish the work he had begun. Jesus replied, “Just a small group of men and women who love me.” “That’s all?” asked the angels, aston-ished. “What if this tiny group should fail?” Jesus replied, “I have no other plans.”
Jesus has no other plans but us. In our baptism, we are called to be disciples of Jesus, to continue the work of Jesus. We are those left to continue the mission of Jesus. We are to preach the Gospel, to bring healing and forgiveness, to be instruments of reconciliation with God and one another. Look deeply into the mystery of Christ, feel yourself within the Holy Trinity, see who you are called to be.
St. Teresa of Avila captures this mystery of who we are in her famous prayer:
Christ has No body on earth but yours; No hands but yours; No feet but yours; Yours are the eyes through which he is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world; Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours the hands with which he is to bless now.
Feast of the Ascension 2018
Fr. David Reitzel
Preached: Sunday May 13, 2018
Today in the Canadian Church we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus. We recall when, as St. Luke tells us, 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead he gathered his disciples to himself, gave them their mission to be his witnesses to the end of the earth, and then was lifted up while a cloud took him from their sight.
The mystery we contemplate today is a popular one. It’s in the creed when we say, “he ascended into heaven.” We meditate on it every time we pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, and it is something that many spiritual authors have written on. Given all this focus that the Church places on the Ascension of Christ, it’s odd that this mystery is often the least understood.
When we think of the Ascension we usually think of it in negative terms. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he “left” us. He went away. He is no longer with us. If that’s what is taking place why is this a Glorious Mystery in the Rosary? Sound more like a Sorrowful Mystery. Perhaps we think, “well, he’s going to heaven which is good . . .for him. . . but what about us?”. I mean, wouldn’t it have been better if Jesus stayed, if he remained with us, and led his Church in its mission to spread the message to all the world?
I’ll admit that sometimes I fall into that way of thinking. But the truth is, this way of thinking misses what actually took place at the Ascension. When Jesus was taken up, he was not taken away from us. When Jesus ascended he entered into union with God his Father and that union transformed the way in which Jesus is present to us.
Before the Ascension when Jesus walked this earth was only present in one place at one time. That is why only a limited number of people actually saw Jesus in history. He walked in Jerusalem and people saw him there. He walked in Galilee and people saw him there. But no one in Greece ever met Jesus. No one in the city of Rome ever had a chance to speak with him. So long as Jesus walked this earth in the flesh he could not be present to all. But now that he sits at the right hand of His Father in heaven he can be present to everyone. You and I can pray to Jesus, experience his presence and love wherever we are because he reigns in heaven.
Pope Benedict XVI put it this way, “He has not ‘gone away’, but now and forever by God’s own power he is present with us and for us.”
One who understood this well was St. Therese of Lisieux. She knew that going to heaven did not mean being separated from people here on earth. Thinking of her own death she said, “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” St. Therese understood that heaven is a place where all the limitations that separate us here in life are removed. She knew that she could do greater good for her sisters in heaven because in heaven she was more united to God and more united to them than ever before.
The unity that Jesus has with us since his ascension into heaven is far greater than when even St. Therese was speaking of. Jesus is now present to us as the divine Son of the heavenly father, as God who is present in all of creation, and who, since the day of Pentecost, is present most especially in those who have received the Spirit.
For each one of you here, Jesus dwells in you, and he does that because he ascended to his Father. So let’s not think that this mystery of the Ascension is about Jesus leaving his disciples and his Church. Today we celebrate when Jesus became present to each and every one of us. If you want to take advantage of this presence then pray to Jesus, call upon him, and trust that he will guide you in all places and times of life because he is present in it all.
He has not left us. He has not gone away. He is closer than he ever has been before.
Feast Of The Ascension 2018
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: May 13, 2018
Grow up. Has anyone ever told you that before? Be Mature. Stop waiting for someone else to do something. Grow up. Perhaps a blunt way to explain the meaning of the Feast of the Ascension.
The Ascension is not so much about Jesus going away But about the disciples of Jesus, the early Church, growing up, becoming mature, taking responsibility for the mission of Jesus. They were no longer sitting around waiting for God to do something. It was now up to them. God was going to do something, but through them.
Jesus commissions them to go out and proclaim the Gospel. Gospel means Good News. Good news, not bad news. Sometimes we Christians sound like people of bad news, always complaining about people, about the world, how bad it is. But, we are to proclaim Good News. We do this by how we live and by how we speak.
Proclaim the Gospel, the Good News. Does the way we speak to one another proclaim Good news? Look at the way you speak to your spouse, the way you speak to your children, the way you speak to friends, the way you speak to your co-workers.
Is it Good News, does it bring hope, encouragement. Does it lead to communion or does it tear down, discourage, criticize all the time? Does our language and way of speaking to others build up or tear down? Is it good news or bad news?
Pope Francis in his Message for World Communication Day this year, included a prayer based on the Prayer of St. Francis. It is called Pope Francis’ Prayer for Countering “Fake News” It is about how we speak, how we communicate to others. In our relationships and also relevant to social media today.
You can find this prayer on line. A good prayer for most of us to use even as a reflection on how I am communicating and speaking to others in my life. (find it online)
So, you will all be sent out from here today, Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
On this feast of the Ascension, the blunt message we need to hear is:
Grow Up, become mature Christians. Stop sitting around waiting for God to do something. God wants to work through you. Take responsibility for the mission of the church. Do not wait for the Pope, or the priest or some other person to do this. Do not wait for God to do something.
Go and proclaim Good news. And in particular bring Good news by the way you speak to others, at home, at school, at work, on social media. By your words bring communion, build up and not tear down, bring goodness.