One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

May 27, 2006

For the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Mark 16:15-20
Acts 1:1-11
Ephesians 1:17-23 or 4:1-13

With the words of the Creed at Mass every Sunday of the year, we proclaim our faith that after Christ rose from the dead he:
ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead

Besides sitting at the right hand of his Father in heaven, what is Christ doing until he returns?
What are we to do until he returns?
The Scriptures today give us answers to these two questions.
The Gospel today tells us that until Christ returns in glory as judge, we are to go throughout the whole world proclaiming his Gospel, inviting everyone to believe, to be baptized and saved from condemnation.
As we go about that work, the Gospel today tells us what Christ is doing.
So then the Lord Jesus,
after he spoke to [his disciples],
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But [the disciples] went forth and preached everywhere,

In other words, our work on earth reaches its goal because Christ has already reached his goal of being at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
What is the connection between Christ in heaven and us on earth?
The connection is as straight, unbroken, direct and immediate as flesh and blood.
When the Son of God rose from the dead, he kept his full share in our human nature, flesh and blood.
As he sits this very moment in the presence of the Father in heaven, Christ has our human nature, flesh and blood.
His glory in heaven lives within our human nature, flesh and blood.
The Gospel tells us that on the day he rose from the dead, he gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples by breathing the Spirit right out of his own human lungs.
That is the work of Christ as he sits in heaven until he returns: Christ breathes the Spirit on behalf of all human nature, flesh and blood.
In the person of Christ himself, the Spirit of God fills our human nature, flesh and blood
This is not magic.
We remain free either to work with the Spirit or to refuse.
God will not do it without us.
The Scriptures today— the Acts of the Apostles, the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, the Holy Gospel— the Scriptures today weave into a piece of cloth that speaks of the Spirit’s power, Christ’s work and our work.
Looking over the fabric of today’s Scriptures, we can easily review what we celebrate in Christ’s Ascension.
Christ has human flesh and blood together with us.

With him,
you and I have one human nature,
one flesh, one blood and one Spirit.

So we can speak of the Church as the fullness of Christ who fills all things in every way by breathing the Spirit.

Christ who came down to the earth is also the one who ascended to heaven that he might fill all things.

We have power from the Holy Spirit to be the witnesses of Christ.

Christ makes us missionaries, leaders, teachers,
to prepare his people for work and service,
to build the body of Christ,
until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God,
until we all reach the fulfillment of our own humanity,
to the extent of the full stature of Christ himself.

In the prayers of the Mass for the Ascension of Christ, we give thanks as we celebrate God’s plan of glory for the human race.
The prayers [Prefaces] for today acknowledge of Christ that:
In his risen body he plainly showed himself to his disciples
and was taken up to heaven …
to claim for us a share in his divine life.

Christ is the beginning, the head of the Church;
where he has gone, we hope to follow.

Christ sits in flesh and blood at the right hand of the Father.
There he breathes the Holy Spirit on our behalf.
As the sign and the presence of this fact, he extends to us his Eucharist by which we eat and drink his flesh, his blood, his glory and his Spirit.
Our final prayer after communion today will declare the whole reality for us.
in this Eucharist we touch the divine life you give to the world.
Help us to follow Christ with love
to eternal life where he is Lord for ever and ever.

That God Be Glorified in All


Blogger Doogie said...

Thank yor for these meditations, Fr. I, for one, find them very edifying.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Bob Farrell said...


Would this be the proper forum to ask for your opinions concerning interpretation of scripture?

When reading and discussing today's readings in class earlier this week, we had a couple of questions about Luke's differing accounts of the ascenscion and also the stark contrast between Jesus's first words upon appearing to his disciples following the resurrection in Mark and John.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Bob, ask what you want!

The Lord never directed his apostles to write. Rather, he told them to teach. They did so for years after his ascension.

The Gospels and the New Testament are divinely inspired extensions--outgrowths--of apostolic teaching. The Holy Spirit inspired and continues to inspire the apostolic, believing, teaching Church. That Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the human instrument of those writings. The Church--apostolic, believing, teaching--is the context for understanding those writings. Without that Church it is not possible to understand those writings as the Holy Spirit wants them understood.

While the Gospels and the other New Testament writings contain some aspects of historical "scripts", they were not written to be historical scripts. They are, as the Gospel of John puts it, the apostolic Church's "testimony" ... so that others "might believe."

So the differing details of perspective (e.g., Mark versus John) are perspectives "within" the Church.

The "Church" approach would be to ask the question, "What is the overall meaning from, for example, Mark and John taken together?" What is the meaning from the four Gospels taken together, rather than as taken apart?

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Bob Farrell said...

I often use the analogy of the three blind men and the elephant to show the kids that we are only able to see God's Glory in small glimpses, each of which is inadequate by itself. When studying scripture I also tell them don't confuse God's truth with man's facts (I try to pound Is 55:8-9 into their thick adolescent skulls). They love to point out "discrepancies" during class (at least some of them are listening), and the two I mentioned previously came up last week.

5:27 PM  

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