YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD YEAR A
HOMILY THEME: THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man. As God, He is eternal, that is to say, with neither beginning nor end. As man, He entered into the history of humanity in a most special way through His incarnation in the womb of the holy and immaculate Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He lived amongst His people in a concrete human family and society, and in the company of his apostles and disciples, performing many great works to the amazement and admiration of His disciples, but also to the scorn and contempt from some of His people. He subsequently suffered and died in the hands of the leaders of the people and on the third day, to the greater glory and victory of God, rose from the dead. Forty days after His resurrection, to conclude His earthly mission in grandeur, before the very eyes of His disciples, He ascended into heaven with great sound of joy. May the ascended Lord constantly pull us to Himself; Amen.
It is exactly forty days after the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This fortieth day after the resurrection marks the commemoration of that holy and faithful day when the Lord concluded His earthly life, ministry and sojourn, and ascended into Heaven before the very eyes of His disciples. It was not an occasion that happened without any witness. It happened right before the disciples as we heard in the First Reading of today (Acts 1:1-11), the Risen Lord “was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took Him from their sight.” The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ was a profound indication of the vertical dimension of our lives. Human Life is not only constituted by it horizontal dimension, that is, the dimensions that directs us towards fellow human beings and other corporeal creatures. Human Life is also fundamentally oriented upwards; towards God, towards the celestial realms. This constitutes the vertical dimension of our existence. Human Life is a gift from above that is lived within the confines of the earth with an elevated attention on where Christ has gone before us. This is one of the indications the Ascension of Christ brings to us. In Christ, we find the prototypical and archetypical model of the proper way to live. God brings us into existence here on earth to live in such a way as to transcend the world in order to ascend to our Homeland in Heaven. This was the success of the earthly life of Christ. This is the form of life which Christ invites us to life. To be a Christian is to live in such a way as to ascend.
The Ascension of Jesus into heaven marked a new beginning for the disciples as it was the moment when they began to understand more deeply the person and mission of Jesus Christ and the mission that awaits them in the years to come. This mission was spelt out by the ascending Lord in the Gospel Reading of today (Mt 28:16-20), “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.” Left alone, the disciples could not realise this mission. Left alone, we, as apostles and disciples of the ascending Lord, cannot ascend. It needed the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the promised Paraclete, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the apostles and disciples of Christ, and most importantly in the Church as the Herald of the Good news of Christ and as the Custodian of the mysteries of Christ and the Dispenser of the graces and merits of Christ through the same power of the Holy Spirit; “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth.” It is only through the assistance of the Holy Spirit can we live in the world and at the same time transcend the world. It is only through His active presence in us are we able to ascend! The Holy Spirit is the One who brings us in contact with the content of the hope we have in Christ. As the Lord ascends, and as our emptiness, powerlessness and helplessness become ever clear to us, we pray for God’s intervention in us with the words of Saint Paul in the Second Reading of today (Eph 1:17-23), “may the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of Him.” It is only through the working of the Holy Spirit are we able receive Christ and to bring Christ to our brothers and sisters, and together with them ascend to where Christ our Head has gone before us in glory.
May the blessings and graces of the ascending Lord remain with us always, especially as we begin our Novena to the Holy Spirit, so that the gifts and fruits of the same Spirit may once more be renewed and revived in us on the day of Pentecost; Amen.
Happy Solemnity of the Ascension; Fr Cyril CCE