Homily – 7th Sunday Easter C

Homily — 7th Sunday Easter C MMVII May 20, 2007
Christ Enthroned

We could call these last 9 Days of the Easter Season “Ascensiontide”. It is the time of year when the Church invites us to reflect on the great mystery of Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven.

The mystery of the Ascension is in a way the conclusion of the mystery of Christmas.

During Christmastide we reflected on how the Eternal Word of God, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, made that long journey down from those glorious heights of heaven, and reaching earth, then forever joined Himself to a human soul and body, and was born in a manger in Bethlehem.

But during this Ascensiontide, we now reflect on how, in the words of Pope St. Leo the Great, “our poor human nature was carried up, in Christ, above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father.”

Christmas challenges us to believe that God loved us so much He came down here and became one like all of us.

But the Ascension challenges us to believe that God loved us so much He took us back home with Him, and made all of us like Him!

Humanity redeemed by Christ has now been raised to the heights of the Divinity. Notice how St. Stephen in the first reading sees The Son of Man, not kneeling below God, but standing at the right hand, standing alongside of God.

It’s no wonder the Jews were covering their ears, that would be a blasphemous thing to say if God didn’t become a man in Jesus Christ.

And as St. Paul says in the Letter to the Ephesians, quoting from one of the Psalms: When He ascended on high, He took with Him an army of captives.

God came down from Heaven traveling by Himself (and a few angels); He returns to Heaven with lots of company. And that company doesn’t just include the souls of the just who died before His first coming, St. Joseph, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, etc. No, it also includes you and me and all the baptized still on earth, who are called to Ascend with Himin spirit”.

And that is just what we do whenever we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Jesus at Mass doesn’t get off His throne in Heaven to appear to us in the Eucharist. He will stay right where He is until the day His father tells Him to return to earth to judge the living and the dead.

But what Jesus does do at every Eucharist is raise us up to receive Him, Body Blood Soul and Divinity, in Heaven. Every Mass is a spiritual Ascension for us all.

What does it mean to spiritually Ascend to Heaven? St. Paul in Colossians says If you were raised with Christ, seek that which is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. . . .

Therefore, put to death that part of you which is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion . . . . and greed, which is idolatry.

. . .(instead) put on (that which is Heavenly) heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, (forgiveness and thankfulness).

May the mystery of Christ’s Ascension raise our human nature up and away from base and earthly things, to ever higher heights of holiness.

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