Homily for Ascension Sunday, year B
Today we celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, a feast that seem to emphasize the departure of Jesus Christ from his apostle and from all of us. But it is actually a feast that celebrates his mysterious and unending presence with us.
Jesus had told his apostle that he was leaving, that he was going back to the Father, from where he came. He made it clear that it was to their advantage that he leave, to our own advantage also (Jn. 16:5-11). When it was time for him to leave, St. Luke tells us in our first reading as well as Mark did in the gospel that, after Jesus had spoken with his apostles, he was taken up into heaven. The apostles watched him go up in flesh and blood, and Luke tells us that they were gazing up toward heaven as he ascended. At that moment it was a departure for the apostle, their master leaving them. But remember the master’s words; it is to your advantage that I go.
You may be wondering how his ascension is to our advantage, that was probably what filled the minds of the apostles as they gazed into the sky watching him go. But as they watched, something amazing happened; …two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. These men or angels may have referred to the expected out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, but it was more of the continuous manifestations of the Divine presence. In his ascension in flesh and blood, Christ lifted our humanity and strengthened it with his power. The limitations of the flesh has been destroyed in Christ Jesus, he is no longer with us in flesh but in spirit. As he ascended and disappeared from the sight of the apostles, he appears to every heart, to every soul; he appears in his word, in the sacraments, in our gathering, in our worship and in everything he has made.
God is with us, that is his name; Emmanuel. His ascension to the right hand of the Father has not separated him from us just as his coming as man did not separate him from the Father. The apostles gazed into the sky as Jesus ascended, but Paul reminds us in his second letter to the Corinthians (5:7) that, we no longer walk by sight but by faith. It is no longer about gazing into the sky, but gazing into the new life Christ gave us. That new life in Christ was what the apostles went out to proclaim after they expirienced the ascension, and the Church invites us all to also proclaim that new life in Christ.
On this Ascension Day, the Church pays special attention to communication in the world. We pray especially for journalists and all those working in media houses, that they may use their profession and skills to advance the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a world where the media has become so powerful and projects all kinds of images and ideas into our homes and heads. Our children and the future generations are exposed to all kinds of deceptive and misleading doctrine through the power of the media. It is my prayer this day that the power of the ascended Christ and his continuous presence in our world may transform us for his glory. Amen!