Catholic homily for the 7th Sunday of Easter Year B(Mass of Ascension)
Theme: GO AND SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO ALL CREATION!
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday May 16 2021
(ACTS 1:1-11, EPHESIANS 1:17-23, MARK 16:15-20)
Today is our liturgical celebration of the Ascension of the Lord, when Jesus was taken to heaven on the fortieth day after Easter in our country and few others. In some other countries, however, this feast might have been already celebrated last Thursday. The feast of today marks the stage of transition in the story of incarnation and resurrection – that Jesus is no more seen in his earthly body. Mark describes it in terms of “being taken up into heaven” (Mk 16:19). Hence, “the ascension” of the Lord, Our reflection is not going to be on the aerodynamics of the feast of today! I would like us to focus on the parting message of Jesus to his apostles, as we heard in the gospel reading of today. ‘Go and spread the good news to all creation’.
First, what is the Good News? St Paul, probably was the first to use the word, ‘euangelion’, in this sense (1Cor 15:1-8). For him, the Good News is the message that Christ died for us, and was raised to life. Therefore, the Good News includes the aspects of death and resurrection of Jesus which are related to the forgiveness of sins. This is apt is the beginning of Jesus ministry according to Mark (Mk 1:15).
Now, why is Mark talking about the proclamation of the Good News to all creation? First of all, the commissioning of Jesus in the words of Mark, invites us to realize that we are embodied. We are part of creation. We experience the love of God in our embodied nature. Underlying our own experience of salvation, there lies the task of integrating our whole self – body, mind and spirit.
Secondly, the proclamation of the Good News to all creation, reminds us of what St Paul talks about in his letter to the Romans (8:19-24) that the whole creation is waiting and groaning. There is a movement in creation towards perfection in God. This perfection has been personified in Jesus, because in Jesus of Nazareth God became part of creation. In Jesus, we see the fulfilment of the purpose of creation as our catechism taught us; to be with Him in eternity.
In the Old Covenant the Chosen People were called by God from their slavery in Egypt, led through the sea during the exodus, and led into the Promised Land of Canaan. But everything changes in the New Testament. The inheritance is not the physical land of Israel. Now the inheritance is heaven; the journey from slavery in Egypt is now a journey from sin crossing through the sea of baptism. Now in the New Covenant the journey is from sin to heaven.
Clearly, we are not to sit back and just let society and the culture around us rot. The Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) reminds us that the laity are called to make the world holy in ways which only the laity can, “Now the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth” (LG no.33)
My brothers and sisters, this is our calling and mission as Christians, to be the witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and to proclaim His love to all. This is not just the work of missionaries or the responsibility of deacons, priests and bishops, or any other ordained and lay ministers of the Church. Each and every one of us share in this same mission to evangelize, to the peoples of many nations as part of our common baptism, which we have received and shared together at the moment when we become members of the Church, be it as infants or as adults.
And we all have a part to play in the efforts to lead more and more people to the truth of God, and that is why we have to be active, in living our lives faithfully and becoming good role models and inspirations to one another in how we carry ourselves in life and in how we interact with each other. That is how we can become genuine witnesses of the Lord and our faith in our respective communities. Go and spread the good news!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara