Thursday, May 9, 2013
"You are witnesses of these things."
Some dioceses will be celebrating the Feast of the Ascension, on Thursday and therefore on Sunday, May 12, 2013 will use the Readings from the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Others have the Readings for the Ascension feast on Sunday. We provide both set of homiletics for you in this week's edition. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.
The Lord Ascends--His Power Descends
This Sunday, we commemorate a crucial point in the story of our salvation. Christ having done all that he came to do now ascends to the Father. This gospel story is the last of the Resurrection appearances.
Fr. James Gilhooley says that among the deeper mysteries in life, perhaps the one we struggle with the most is the mystery of the Ascension. It's not so much that we misunderstand it, we simply don't understand it. The Resurrection of Christ is not about a dead body getting up and walking about. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS explains that it was an appearance of the risen transcendent Body of Christ as he is in heaven.
Sometimes only someone's absence can deepen and cleanse his presence. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says that is part of the mystery, the theology, and the psychology of the Ascension. Although Jesus has disappeared from our sight, Fr. Phil Bloom points out that our Lord did not leave us. Fr. John Foley, S. J. adds that that Jesus would now be within us. Our lives are now a quiet immersion in the Trinitarian reality of Christ. His great work is now handed on to his disciples to bring to completion in His Spirit and with His Spirit.
"You will be my witnesses."
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB highlights the the meaning of the Resurrection and the Ascension of our Lord. It is not one of divine abandonment of the human cause, but divine empowerment of the Gospel dream!
And He tells us, "You will be my witnesses." The role we undertake as members of the Church is to spread the Good News throughout the earth and to live our lives in such a way that they give glory to God. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says our ultimate goal is that all nations and people will come to worship the one true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.
That All May Be One
In Jesus, the Future Has Already Begun! He continues to pray that all may be one just as the Father and he are one in order that the world may come to believe. Father Cusick explains that this radical unity of the Church, "one, holy, Catholic and apostolic" is not incidental to the Church but is rather constitutive, of absolute necessity for the identity of the one true Church of Christ.
Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB adds that in Jesus' mind, the unity and love among his followers will draw all people to believe in him. He believes that the separation and hostility among Christians surely is a scandal in the strictest sense -- an obstacle to belief. And so Fr. James Gilhooley poses a challenge to all of us. Is not today a good time to begin our self-reformation? In a world full of bad news, should we not be good news?
Jesus' Priestly Prayer
As an added note, we point out the priestly prayer found in the Readings for the Seventh Sunday from John's Gospel. This is the longest prayer that we have from the lips of Jesus. No doubt there were others. But unhappily they were never recorded. It is only John who took the pains to leave it to us. We all owe him a serious debt. The only other prayer that we have of the Nazarene is of course the Our Father. And we have two versions of that.
The answer to this question, according to Mark Shea, is severalfold. But the primary reason is because Jesus Christ commands it and our business is to do his will. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says we are to forget about the idea that just the witness of our lives is enough. It is not. You may not called to preach on street corners, but Vatican II and subsequent popes, echoing 1 Peter 3:15, say that we all must be ready to articulate what Jesus has done for us, what he means to us, and why he is the answer to the world’s problems.
Msgr. Charles Pope observes how many if not most Catholics are more passionate about their politics than their faith. Instead of being the light by which we see all things, the Faith tends to get “tucked under” our worldview and political view, our careers and preferences. He says Faith ought to trump Politics. The world should be on trial by the Word of God and the teachings of the Church.
Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
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