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 in Spirit 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 or despair. It guarantees the faith and the church’s bright and victorious 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 he began. But knowing we’d need special help he sent his Holy Spirit to be with us. And He himself remained 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 have no fear, however bleak things seem. God ensured that Christ would rule the world in the Spirit.
So all are saved whether they realize it or not. Of course there’s evil still – wars, famines, injustices. 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 using this to renew and reform the church. I see his work myself in the holy people I encounter everyday, their work is not mine but his. Though church leaders can be a stumbling block, Christ is still lord. The apostles tried to stop His Ascension. But He had to go so that the Spirit would come, the church be born, and its mission succeed in his power.
In Tralee once I baptized 16 adults from various countries; it reminded me of the universal church we’re privileged to be part of. It will survive today’s troubles as it survived 1000s of political and ideological systems that attacked it since its foundation. For at its heart is not human ideas or systems but the Risen lord. Despite constant onslaught on it, even in Ireland today, the church will survive and grow in the power of that Lord. Just as through 1000s of crises during history it has grown stronger. You know the Star Wars slogan “the force be with you”. The force of the risen Christ 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 his Ascension and Pentecost, when the apostles went to teach all nations. That glorious work of Christ must continue until the end of time through us. So that when he comes again he’ll gather a vast universal 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 sacred Baptismal and confirmation vows. Having done that we’ll ascend also to the Father, for the corrupt world of which Satan is lord turns to dust and ashes at last, but the ascendant Christ is lord of life, goodness, peace and salvation both for our happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen.
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
And as his equally glorious people lets pray for what we need
For the church throughout the world that it may never lose heart but grow and thrive in the power of its Risen and ascended Lord..
For ourselves, that we may never be just passive Christians but active builders of his kingdom of saving love at home, in the work place, and wherever we are…
For our young people that they may be inspired to become priests, religious and lay workers for Christ and his church, new apostles of our age…
For those suffering due to sickness, old age, or poverty, that they may be helped by our generous and caring 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.
And we ask these prayers through the risen Lord of life, 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. Certainly, prayer raises us all up to God. We pray that through deep personal and s community prayer such as the mass, we may be raised up to great grace, glory and fervor in the lord service…Hail Mary