Homily for the feast of the Ascension of the Lord

Year B - Mk. 16:15-20


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.'


"So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it."





Homily:


"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.' "


Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus into Heaven, where God - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - has always and will always live. Forty days after his Resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended into Heaven to receive from his Father the Glory he eternally possesses: the man Jesus is now glorified forever and ever, having the same glory as the Word, the Word eternally begotten by the Father in the Spirit of Love!


Thirty-three years before, according to a traditional chronology, the Word came down to earth to be made flesh of the Virgin Mary through the operation - that is, in virtue of a personal action - of the Holy Spirit, the third person of Most Holy Trinity. Now, he has gone up to Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God. This descent to earth and ascension constitute what is called the first coming of the Son of God, a temporal coming, a coming of a certain duration. This first coming is nothing other than a preparation for his second coming, a timeless coming, a coming which will take place at the end of time, when time is no more.


At the time of his first coming to earth, the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, worked to recreate everything in the Holy Spirit. It was for this purpose that he suffered his Passion and that he was resurrected from the dead. By his Passion, he provided satisfaction for the offence to God caused by our sins; by his Resurrection, he rendered to human nature an even more perfect conformity with the image that God had given it at the time of its initial creation. But, in the case of the Passion of Christ, we must share in it ourselves if we wish to merit the Glory the Lord will bring us at his second coming.


The first coming of Christ has truly been completed in he who is the Head of the Church - Jesus himself - but it is still necessary for this first coming to be carried out in each and every member of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Each one of those who believe in Christ must appear to be another Christ to the eyes of the world, crucified and resurrected like him, through the water of baptism. By our faith and our baptism, we can be other Christs, living today and, following Christ, preparing the second coming of the Son of God.


" 'And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.' "


Jesus ascended into Heaven, and he will return to earth at the end of time: "This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11) Meanwhile, in order to continue his first coming and prepare for the second, we are all invited to believe in the Son of God, whom the Father sent to give us eternal Life through the Passion and the Resurrection of his Son. But this faith, this great virtue which transforms the world and our entire life, this faith will be confirmed by God, who will show everyone that he is with us and that we truly are his disciples and apostles throughout the whole world! The first of these miracles is the Church herself, still here after nearly two thousand years! And so this miracle is also us: the fact that, today, in the year 2000, we believe in God and love him, following all those who preceded us in the faith, this fact is the first of all the miracles which show the whole world that God is with us and carries out his Work through us!


"So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it."


The Lord Jesus is in Heaven, in the Glory of God! Ever since he is there, he has expected only one thing of us: that we believe in him, he whom we do not see. That is enough. For, through this faith, he will pour out upon the whole world and upon us the grace and power of his Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:8). Let us ask the Lord to pour out into our hearts an ardent faith, a living faith, a faith full of love, a faith able to move mountains! If we believe, everything is possible! If we persevere in the faith, we will achieve salvation: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."


To believe without seeing! This is our task, this is our participation in the Passion of Jesus so that we might merit the Glory of Heaven in a perfect, total, and eternal Resurrection! Let us ask Mary, the model of faith in the first coming of the Son of God, to intercede for us and for the whole world, in order that the faith in Jesus the Savior of the world might spread forth ever more for the Glory of the Father, in the Spirit!