Monday, 2 June 2014

Ascensiontide Homily (Yr. A) 2014 - St Thomas More, POCSP, TORONTO

The risen Lord Jesus said: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus has promised to be with us always to give us HOPE.  Pope Francis recently compared Jesus accompanying us to a mountain guide.  Jesus like the guide goes ahead and pulls us up when necessary. He leaves his position to come to our aid when we are stranded or cannot move forward and upward.  He is with us always.

Secondly, and following from this gift of HOPE, Jesus has given us a GREAT COMMISSION.

Today's Reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew [Mt. 28:16-20] speaks of  this great commission that was given to the Apostles by Jesus and so to us under their guidance and the guidance of those who are their successors.

First, HOPE.

Blessed John Henry Newman gives us a picture of that hope based upon what has been revealed to us about the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. He says:

“ it is our comfort to know, that ‘if any man sin, we have an Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous and he is the propitiation for our sins.’  As the Jewish high priest, after the solemn sacrifice for the people on the great day of the Atonement, went into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the victim, and sprinkled it on the Mercy-Seat, so Christ has entered into heaven itself, to present before the Throne that sacred Tabernacle [his human body] which was the instrument of his passion – his pierced hands and wounded side,    in token [of] the atonement which he has effected for the sins of the world?”
Mercy Seat
Newman goes on to say that this great mystery revealed in part to us and can only be expressed by: “the weak and stammering tongues of earth . . . We are allowed with Angels to obtain a glimpse of the mysteries of Heaven . . . . We hold it as a mystery, or (what was anciently called) a Truth Sacramental.”

Newman speaks of this Truth about the humanity of Jesus, now ascended into Heaven where he intercedes for us as one who shares fully our humanity; Newman calls Jesus’ action of love: “the pledge of a doctrine which reason cannot understand, namely of the influence of the prayer of faith upon the Divine counsels.”
A profound mystery of hope.


Since Jesus is with us to give us hope, we are likewise commissioned to share this same  hope with every person and nation, baptizing (immersing) them in his hope and making them disciples of the one who has won salvation for us and has ascended, going before us into the Kingdom of Heaven to intercede for us and bring us to be with him.

The GREAT COMMISSION gives authority to accomplish this mission of hope.

Prior to granting someone the authority to do something, it is necessary to establish that one has the authority to give such an authority. Jesus began by stating that He has been given such an authority. "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me." [Mt. 28:18]

What authority are we talking about here? To answer that, it is necessary to refer to today's Second Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. [Eph. 1:17-23]
"God put  power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come."  [Eph. 1:20-21]

Then we hear St. Paul say,  "I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance among the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power." [Eph. 1:17-9]

St Paul prayed that we may enjoy this spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we may share in knowledge of the Father of glory, not only of His Plan, but of knowing God as Holy Trinity the perfect communion of  God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  St. Paul prayed that we may experience this great love of God expanded to  all humanity in and through the divine and human natures of Christ, such love being manifested through our love for each other in true Christian action and hope.

This immeasurable power unites where once there was division. It heals where pain once existed. It forgives where condemnation once thrived.  Such a love is not bound by gender, age, race, nationality or social class. It has no barriers whatsoever.

St. Paul continues by saying, "And (God the Father) has put all things under (the) feet (of Jesus) and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." [Eph. 1:22-23]

Jesus is the invisible anointed Head (our mountain guide), Leader of the visible Catholic Church that He has established on earth. He is also the Leader of the past, present and future saints who belong to the invisible mystical Body that enjoys its seat in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Having dominion over all creation, Jesus commissioned His apostles and us:  

"go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . .  And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
[Mt. 28:19-20]

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