HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION
THEME: WITNESSING PERSPECTIVES.
BY: Fr Karabari Paul
HOMILY FOR THURSDAY MAY 26 2022
‘You are witnesses of these things’ (Luke 24:46-53).
Today is Ascension day, forty days after the resurrection. For forty days Jesus was preparing His Apostles to bear the loss of His physical presence through the comforter that would come. During this period, He prepared the structure of His mystical Body, the Church. Moses had fasted days before the giving of the Law; Elijah fasted forty days before the restoration of the law, and now the Risen Lord prepared and laid the pillars of His Church during these forty days.
He led them out as far as Bethany, which was the scene of the last adieu; Jerusalem and not Galilee, where He had suffered, would take place His return to the Heavenly Father. He raised His hands bearing the imprint of nails. His hands were raised first to heaven and then pulled downward to earth to draw down blessings on men and women. Pierced hands best distribute blessings.
Acts of the Apostles begins in the first chapter with these words of Jesus used in the First Reading today (Acts 1:1-11), ‘…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). W can nod along with a smile, glad that there are Priests, Pastors, Reverend Sisters, Missionaries, Prophets, Bishops or whatever you call them, taking the Gospel to people far and wide. We might nod less enthusiastically when we think that Jesus is talking to us.
As they were Jesus’ last recorded earthly words before He ascended into heaven, we can say that He probably wanted us to remember them! When Jesus told us that we will be His witnesses, what did He mean? (And did He not realise how hard it might sometimes feel?) Firstly, there is a difference between a witness and a lawyer. Jesus is just asking us to tell people what we know of Him: to share the Good News that we have been given, that God loves us enough to save us, in Christ. Secondly, though you may not be a full-time minister of the word and sacraments, you are meeting people every day that full-time ministers will never get the chance to talk to. It may well be that God has made your path cross with someone He wants to lead on a path to His cross. And many of us would be surprised at how powerfully God can use us, to reveal Himself to people around us, when we speak as a ‘witness’ of what He is done in our lives.
Sometimes, if we focus on our troubles, we may lose the flavour to bear witness. Being a ‘witness’ (Acts 1:8) for Jesus, He has ‘commissioned’ us to ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20). Notice that He hasn’t called us to ‘make converts’ or even ‘Christians’. The Holy Spirit converts. Jesus calls us to be ‘witnesses’ to who He is and what He has done, but to do so in a way that wants to see people come into a long-term relationship with Him. It is a wonderful privilege to journey with someone in their first steps of walking with God, and it is not reserved for far-off ‘professionals’ to do, it really could be any of us. To think of the change that it can make to somebody’s faith to be invested into, to be cared for and challenged, in short: to be ‘discipled’, is wonderful. It also does wonders for our own relationships with God to do it. It is our turn to witness to Christ in our own time. It is a privilege to do so. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our country Nigeria, bless and protect us all through Christ Our Lord Amen. Please, stay safe. Good morning.
By: Fr Karabari Paul