A HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION – CYCLE “A” – 6/1/14 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
The Acts of the Apostles, starts out with the Ascension of our Lord. As we heard in our First Reading today, Acts Chapter One, Jesus said to His followers, “You will be my witnesses in the world, to the ends of the earth, and with that, He was lifted and a cloud took Him from their sights. St. Luke’s Gospel says that this was out near Bethany where this took place. But please notice what His followers do, AFTER He ascends to His Father in Heaven. Did you catch it? They stand there gawking! They are so astounded at what has just happened, that they just stand there “looking intently” at the sky. We don’t know how long this went on. But what the Acts of the Apostles does tell us, is that God has to send messengers, angels dressed in white garments, to get them to stop gawking. The angels have to tell the disciples to go to work. Can you believe it? Who knows? Maybe the early Church would have been stayed there staring up at the sky for years, if God didn’t stop them.
We too know what it is like to gawk at something. It might be the final seconds of a play-off basketball game, or a car accident on the side of the road, or somebody with a tattoo on their face. Sometimes, we are just so shocked by what we see, that we can’t help ourselves, we just stare. We just keep looking. It can be like we are in a trance, or something. And sometimes, our gawking, our inability to quit watching, keeps us from doing what God needs us to do.
My brothers and sisters, as celebrate today the great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we too are being told to quit watching, and to get to work. You see, today, as Church, we LIKE to watch. It comes naturally enough. We watch TV, we watch our computers and tablets, and phones, we watch sports, and concerts, and movies and plays. We have become very good at watching. We like to watch so much, that too many of us come to Mass to watch. We watch the priest. We watch the choir. We watch the people around us. We watch as others live out their Faith lives. We watch others get involved, and help out, and volunteer. We watch as others pray, and we watch others learn more about their Faith, and we watch others get to know God better. And what happens far too often when we are watching all of these things? We watch all of these things and we never get around to doing anything ourselves! Too many of us are gawker Catholics! We like to watch!
And very much like those disciples standing there looking up to the sky, just outside of Bethany, on the day when Jesus ascended to Heaven, God is sending us angels to kick us in the pants, and tell us to quit gawking, and get to work. We have got a lot of work to do as Jesus’ Church. There’s not time for any of us to stand around watching. Today, more than ever, we need a new sense of urgency, in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others. Our job is to get others home to Heaven. Are we spending so much of our time watching and gawking, that we’re not getting anybody home to Heaven? This is a real, serious question for all of us. Are we watching? Or are we participating in the building up of the Kingdom of God?
Let me remind you that Christianity, most especially Catholic Christianity, is NOT a spectator sport. It is so much better and so much more fun, to get involved in this thing that we call “Church”. We’ve got enough people watching. What we need are more people doing! So how are you being Jesus’ witness to the “ends of the world”? There is a lot of work to do. There are people who need to be catechized. There are people who need to be healed. There are people who need to be evangelized. There are people who need to be listened to, and ministered to, and brought back to Faith! Who’s going to do all these things? The 11 Apostles aren’t. Their time is over. Can’t we just leave it up to the Pope? He seems to be doing a good job. We know people and have contact with people, that the Pope will never know. How about the Pastor? Can’t we just add it to his job description? My job description is big enough. The job, the work, belongs to all of us. We all have to get busy. It is time for all of us to go to work. It is time to quit watching and gawking! The Ascension is graduation day for all of us! Let us get to work!
+ May God bless all of us on this Feast Day, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!