Catholic homily for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord Year B
Theme: A moment of handover
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Thursday May 13 2021
With His Ascension into Heaven, Jesus concluded His earthly sojourn and mission, and a new face was opened for His Apostles and disciples. We all belong to this new face of those enabled by the gracious presence of Christ to edify the Kingdom of God here on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. The heart of this Mission is to prepare ourselves for the Second Coming of Christ in glory and to help our brothers and sisters to achieve the same goal. May we ever be faithful to this Mission as to reign with Christ in the celestial realms at the end of our lives; Amen.
Exactly Forty Days after the solemn celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, the Church celebrates that day when Christ, before the very eyes of His followers, ascended into heaven from where He had descended to be with us through His Incarnation in the Immaculate Womb of the Virgin Mary. The earthly mission of Christ was marked by an excellent success that was not immediately understood by some of His followers. The climax of this successful execution of His mission was in the Paschal Mysteries of His Passion, Death and Resurrection, through which salvation was gained for all men and women of all generations and of every tribe and nation. Returning back to His heavenly Throne, the disciples received the Mission to prolong the efficacious merits of Christ’s Mission to all peoples and in every age, space and time by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the Ascension of Christ was not only a moment of Christ’s return to the Father, but also a moment of handover from Christ to His disciples, of the Mission to unite all things in Christ and through Christ according to the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This was made known in the Gospel Reading of today (Mark 16:15-20); “go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation… And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven.” The annual celebration of the Ascension of Christ is always a moment of both personal and collective re-assessment of our commitment to the Mission of Christ. The Mission of the Church and our Mission as Christians is not different from the Mission of Christ. It is a prolongation of the Mission of Christ in every space and time, such that the Light of Christ may illumine the hearts of all men and women, leading them out of darkness and disposing them to accept and to do the will of God; such that all may receive equal opportunity to savour the Salvation purchased by Christ and made constantly available to all by the power of the Holy Spirit at work through the Church.
The Apostles and the earliest Disciples of Christ were very conscious of this Mission, especially after Christ’s Ascension, and most importantly after the Pentecost Experience. The Acts of the Apostles and the other writings of the New Testament were borne out of this consciousness. Saint Luke in writing to Theophilus this second volume of the Lukan Corpus began with the Ascension of Christ to emphasis the very starting point of the Apostolic Ministry. The Master, however, never left his followers without a Spiritual point of reference for the success of their ministry. As we read in the First reading (Acts 1:1-11) “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth… As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight.” Celebrating the Ascension of Christ and anticipating His coming in glory, our conscious and fruitful participation in and execution of this Mission which Christ has entrusted to us remains our unique preparation in view of reigning with Christ in glory. To participate and to fruitfully execute this Mission is the reason for the special and unique graces which God imbued in each and every of us through the merits of Christ and by the power of the Spirit; “each one of us, however, has been given his or her own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it” (Ephesians 4:1-13). It is forbidden to disregard the grace of God in us or to render it fruitless by our lack of corporation. Our corporation with the grace of God, working in diverse ways in each and every one of us, enables us to be positively responsive in the edification of the Body of Christ and in the building of a just and peaceful society. Corporation with the grace of God is the true path to perfection which is God’s wish for each of us “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). As we continue to face manage challenges in the various spheres of life and in our society, only our positive corporation with the grace God can change our story for the best.
Lord Jesus Christ, as You ascend to the highest heights, give us the grace to fix all of our gaze on the heavenly realities where You live in glory as to transcend the distractive and destructive attractions of the things of this passing world; Amen.
Happy Ascension Thursday; Fr Cyril CCE