The Ascension of the Lord

Homily for the Feast of the Ascension (Year C)
June 1-2, 2019
Sacred Heart, EGF:                  Saturday, 5:30 PM
Holy Trinity, Tabor:                 Sunday, 8:00 AM
St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher:   Sunday, 10:00 AM


40 days ago, at Easter, the joy of the Resurrection filled our hearts.

Today, the cause of our joy is the Ascension,
the day when our human nature was carried up, in Christ,
above the hosts of heaven.

Our fallen humanity was restored to its original glory, actually beyond its original glory, and raised up to the heights of heaven.

We just finished celebrating the month of May. May is the month of Mary.  We have the tradition of crowning the statue of Mary.  We crown her, acknowledging that she is queen of heaven but also queen of our hearts.

We crown her as queen because her humble “yes” to the announcement of the angel on the day of Annunciation led to the Incarnation of the Son of God. Divinity descends and is joined to humanity in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She humbled herself and God exalted her.

Divinity descends and is joined to humanity. Jesus is fully God and fully man.  He is not half God and half man.  In him, divinity and humanity are joined together.  They cannot be separated and yet they are not mixed together.  It is a mystery that confounds the human mind.

It is a mystery proclaimed at every mass as the altar is prepared. The bread and wine are brought forward, and the priest or deacon pours a small amount of water into the wine and says:water and wine

By the mystery of this water and wine,
may we come to share in the divinity of Christ,
who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

God humbled himself on that day of the Annunciation by taking on our humanity, and today he is glorified as he is raised up to Heaven.

The mystery of Christmas is the mystery of the Incarnation.
Divinity is joined to humanity.

Today is the fulfillment of that mystery.
Our humanity is now taken up with his divinity.

In our opening prayer for this Mass, we prayed to the Father with these words:

the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope. 

The Church is the Body of Christ.
The Body has a head, and that head is Christ.
That Body also has members, and we are the members.

May we come to share in the divinity of Christ
who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.

He joined himself to our humanity so that we might be joined to his divinity.

Brothers and sisters,
ours is a high calling,
a sublime calling,
a call to the heights of divinity itself.

On Christmas Day, St. Leo the Great says these words to his congregation:

Christian, remember your dignity,
and now that you share in God’s own nature,
do not return by sin to your former base condition.
Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member.
Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.

Brothers and sisters,

You are made to climb to the heights of Heaven!

You are made for an eternal weight of glory!

You are made to rise above the ashes of a mediocre life
that the world holds out to you
and to make your life an offering of fragrant incense
ascending to the throne of God
by striving to root out sin
and to live a life of heroic virtue,
a life lived for God in the midst of a world stinking from the smells of selfishness and individualism.

You are made to live as if you believe that you who are Jesus says you are:
a son,
a daughter,
of the Living God,
redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ beyond all price:

the blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel which cried out from the ground after Cain had slain him,

the blood of Christ that, today, as he ascends into Heaven,
now appears before God on our behalf,
interceding for us even as this same blood appears on this altar
and is raised up to God on our behalf with these words:

Through him and with him and in him,
O God Almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours forever and ever.

Mary humbled herself and God exalted her.

Jesus humbled himself and was exalted.

We, too, must humble ourselves
if we are to be exalted,
if we are to be raised,
to the heights of Heaven.

We must submit ourselves to him by allowing him to be the Lord of every aspect of our lives.

Pope Benedict XVI said this:

Jesus himself is what we call “Heaven.” Heaven is not a place.  Heaven is a person – the person of Him in whom God and Man are inseparably one.  And we go to Heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into Him.  In this sense, “ascension into Heaven” can be something that happens in our every day lives.

And that is a reason for rejoicing today!

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