May 8, 2016

A HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD –  CYCLE “C” –  5/8/16 –  SMG

+ Pax et Bonum!   Peace and goodness to you this day!

This weekend, graduations are happening at several major universities in the state of Indiana: IU, Purdue, Ball State, Marian, Butler, and Anderson universities are all six having their graduations this weekend.  In the next four weeks, all of the local high schools will be holding graduation ceremonies for their seniors.  On May 25th, at a special Mass right here at St. Maria Goretti, we will graduate our 20th graduating class of eighth graders, sending them on to our local high schools.  It is that graduation time of year!  Kroger is busy making graduation cakes.  The postal service is busy delivering all the graduation announcements and cards.  And everybody wants their picture taken with the graduates.  Have you noticed that?  There’s like some rule somewhere that says that anybody who graduates from any level of education, has to get their picture taken with every, living relative that they have!  And now, of course, with cameras on our phones, it’s even worse!  You try taking a selfie with your great-grandmother when you’re in a cap and gown!

We come to Mass this weekend for the Feast of the Ascension, and we find the Apostles are graduating also.  Jesus may be returning to His Father in Heaven.  But for the Apostles, their education and training is all over and it is time to go to work.  There’s no cap and gown, no “Pomp and Circumstance”, and no diploma, but make no mistake about it, this is Graduation Day for the Apostles.  I wonder if they had cake after the Ascension?  Can’t you just see Mama Zebedee cutting cake and passing it out on little paper plates?

Most likely, the biggest thing that the Apostles had in common with today’s graduates, was sharing their fears and concerns for the future.  Jesus was gone.  Now it became the responsibility of the Apostles to take the Good News out to the world.  They must have wondered, who would believe them?  How were they going to get people to come to Jesus without the miracles?  And then, of course, they had killed Jesus.  The Apostles must have had some indication that if they were going to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and build His Kingdom, they there was a distinct possibility that they would also end up dead.  On the day of the Ascension, the Apostles must have been terrified.  They must have had that same “deer in the headlights” look that a lot of graduates have in their graduation pictures.  And yet, the Holy Spirit is going to take care of that fear next weekend.  God would strengthen them beyond their wildest dreams!  But that’s next weekend.

For now, the Apostles were to get busy.  They were to take the Good News of the Resurrection out into the world.  Today, the torch was passed to them, and the responsibility for the Church was now in their hands!  There had to have been an excitement!  There must have been a sense of accountability for the message.

That responsibility for the Church is what we inherit from the Apostles.  Today, in 2016, it is not up to Peter, James, and John, and Mary Magdalen, and Paul, and Timothy, and Titus.  Today it is up to us to keep the message alive in the world.  That’s a serious charge.  Like the Apostles, we are going to need the Holy Spirit.  We’ll talk about that next week.  What we need to be clear on this week, is our accountability to Christ for the Kingdom, for the Church.  As Baptized, Catholic Christians each and every one of us has a responsibility to be busy making sure that the message continues!  That’s not just the Pope’s job.  And that’s not just the Bishop’s job.  And that’s not just the priest’s job!  And that’s not just the Parish Council’s job.  That responsibility belongs to all of us.  What are you doing to share the Faith?  How many lives have you influenced?  What are you doing to make sure that the Church continues to grow and to thrive?

My brothers and sisters, it is far, far, too easy for us to sit back and complain.  We can gripe and harp over and over about all the things we don’t like about the Church.  But what are YOU doing to make it better?  How are you building the Kingdom of God?

The Ascension is graduation day for all of us!  All of us!  It is time for us too to get busy.  There’s much work to be done!  There are souls that need converting.  There are people starving for God in their lives.  It is up to us, all of us, as Church, to take care of them!  Let’s get out there, and like the Apostles, make a real difference!