We end our Easter celebrations with the Ascension of the lord. He had to go so as to send the Spirit and begin the church. But he is with us all days in this until the end of the world. Lets confess any ways we may have failed our great lord.
Nowadays the church is in turmoil; scandals, mass attendance down, atheism growing. We who love Christ and his church could easily lose heart. But we shouldn’t. Christ’s ascension is the perfect antidote to pessimism. It guarantees the faith of the church’s and its bright future. For Christ ascended to the father not to abandon us but to be with us forever. From God’s right hand he orchestrates the world’s and his church’s inevitable final triumph. He sent us his followers out at the ascension to “teach all nations” and bring his salvation to the ends of the earth. In effect, he trusted us to finish the work of God he began. But knowing we’d need special help he sent his Holy Spirit to be with us forever. and He himself is with us as risen lord: “behold I am with you all days even to the end of the world and the gates of hell will not prevail against you”. What consoling words. Lets not fear then, however bleak life seems. God gave dominion to his Christ to rule the world in the Spirit.
So the world’s salvation is assured, whether it realizes it or not. Evil remains – wars, abortion, kidnappings, decadence in the west – but as scripture says, “where sin abounds grace abounds even more now”. Even in recent revelations of the institutional church’s failings, the Holy Spirit is present, I believe, using this to renew and reform the church. I see that work in the holy people I meet everyday; their steadfast perseverance in faith and goodness is not my doing but that of the Spirit. Though church leaders can be a stumbling block at times, Christ is still lord of the church in that Spirit. Remember the apostles tried to stop Him going to the Father. But He had to go so that the spirit would come, the church be born, and its mission succeed.
In Tralee once I baptized 16 adults from various countries; it reminded me of the universal splendid church we’re still privileged to be part of. It will survive today’s troubles and atheism as it survived 1000s of political and ideological systems since its foundation. For at its heart is not human ideas or systems but the Risen lord. Despite onslaught on it, even by governments today, the church will survive and grow in the power of that Lord. Just as through 1000s of crises during history it grew stronger. You know the Star Wars slogan “the force be with you”. The risen Christ’s force is with us and can’t be defeated.
But does that mean we can sit back and let it happen. No, Christ needs our help, we must be his saving hands in the world. We were baptized to carry on his work. He ascended to God and sent his Spirit so that we could finish his redemptive work. The church was born at the Ascension and Pentecost. That work of Christ must continue until the end of time through us. So that when he comes again he’ll gather a vast number of the saved into the eternal kingdom of God. Lets play our part in that victory by actively spreading and defending the faith now and so glorify God and fulfil our Baptismal and confirmation vows. Having done that, we’ll ascend to the Father, for the corrupt world of which Satan’s lord turns to dust and ashes at last and leaves us empty inside for this world and the next, dry as a bone before eternity, but the ascendant Christ is our lord of life, goodness peace salvation for this world and forever and ever. So as God’s people empowered for mission by his ascension and presence with us forever as Lord, lets reaffirm our faith.
Prayers of the Faithful
We pray for Pope Francis and the church throughout the world that it may never lose heart but grow and thrive in the power of its Risen and ascendant Lord..
For ourselves, that we may never be just passive Christians but active builders of his kingdom of saving love in our homes, in our work places and wherever we are…
For all who govern us that they may promote the values of faith and life and not the imported values of cold empty worldliness..
For our fine young people that they may be inspired to become priest, religious and lay workers for Christ and his church, may they be the glorious new apostles of our age…
For those suffering due to sickness, old age or poverty, that they may be helped by our generosity and love…
For the dead that the ascension of the Lord may bring them all to the heavenly mansion prepared for them from the foundation of the world, amen
There’s a story told of St.Theresa of Avila. One sister stole into church to watch her at prayer. Suddenly her body actually left the floor and was lifted up into the air. She was so caught up in God, she transcended even the laws of the natural world. We may not achieve that kind of intense contemplation, but even our simplest prayers and eucharistic adoration raises us up to God beyond measure. Lets hope that through deep personal and well as community prayer such as the mass, we may be raised up to great grace, glory and fervor to serve the Risen ascendant lord, his holy church and all people in love…Hail Mary