Sunday, May 08, 2016

Sunday word, 08 May 16

The Heart of It
Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (08 May 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Each Easter Vigil those baptized promise to live as members of risen Jesus. The already-baptized renew their baptismal promises with them. On Easter Day all gathered at Mass renew them. Baptismal promises are the heart of our creeds: the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed.1 When we say, I believe, we pledge ourselves to a person: Jesus. Risen Jesus embodies a single mystery: Incarnation-Resurrection-Ascension. Threefold yet one mystery.

I will let some phrases of our creeds focus our vision on the mystery we celebrate: Jesus came down from heaven…for our sake…he suffered death and was buried, [he] rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. We hear the phrases express Incarnation-Resurrection-Ascension. We focus on one aspect of Jesus then another so we may appreciate him and all to which he invites us.

To focus on one aspect at a time is not strange. We do it when we appreciate the mystery of each other. To focus one aspect at a time is not limited to our Christian selves. An example: athletes focus on separate parts of their bodies so their entire bodies may function with greater ease and harmony. We celebrate the Ascension of Jesus so we may appreciate him as our Messiah and Lord sharing his life with us.

Appreciating Messiah Jesus stumbles because our language is limited as we try to express deep truth. The Ascension side of Jesus’ mystery highlights that. You’ll remind me scripture says he was lifted up. Scripture’s truth embraces more: ascending speaks not about space; it affirms risen Jesus shares God’s life. Scripture more often uses exaltation and its enthronement imagery. Our creeds let us echo it: seated at the right hand of God. Jesus, who died for us, was raised to be the source of God’s life for us.

Raised for us. Resurrection is not resuscitation; it is new creation from death to absolutely new, unlimited, powerful life. Scripture points to the truth that risen Jesus lives and even death no longer limits him: to the women at the empty tomb two men in dazzling garments asked why they sought the living one among the dead.2

Living Jesus would not remain present in his glorified body. Yet he is not absent.To this day risen Jesus is more powerfully present by his Spirit. Exalted at the right hand of his Father, Jesus, author of life,3 is present each moment. Risen Jesus’ exaltation as life-giving Lord opens on to his more intimate presence with us and all reborn in baptism, sealed with his Holy Spirit and nourished by his eucharist.

What does Jesus’ spirit-presence mean for us? In his spirit is our present; in his spirit is our future. Our present life is limited: it is broken and wounded by sin. Our future will be healed. We will be healed and share fully Jesus’ divine nature as he shares our human nature. In our present Jesus’ spirit allows us to eat with him so his flesh and blood nourish us to share his mission: be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth; Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.

This is our mission: to make Jesus known because we know him through the church, its sacraments and the words of scripture it proclaims. Deepening our relationship with Jesus makes us more effective disciples. Deepening our relationship with Jesus lets us evangelize joyfully. Celebrating the Ascension-Exaltation of Jesus with sacramental devotion renews our confidence to count on his promise and give ourselves anew to his gospel for the sake of our world.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Bask in the living light of our triune God.
  • Ask the apostles to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for abiding with us even when we are unaware he accompanies us; thank him for the privileged way he abides with us in his sacraments and shares his exalted life with us.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live out the life he offers.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his words, who art in heaven, to remind us we call on the exalted, living God. God’s life Jesus shares and offers us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


Wiki-image: The Ascension PD-US Spirit-fire by Nheyob CC BY-SA 4.0

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