Our readings for this Sunday, the Ascension of the Lord are here.
Ascension on Thursday, May 26, would mark forty days from Easter. However, many dioceses in the United States (and elsewhere) moved the observance to the following Sunday (this year, May 29) to increase participation in its observance. In the 1990s, the dioceses of Australia, Canada, and the United States moved their observances to Sunday, as did England and Wales later. However, England and Wales have since reverted to a Thursday observance.
These are my notes from Fr Dennis’ homily from the
- May 12, 2013 Mass
Fr Dennis did not reference a poem in 2013! However …
in 2013, we reflected that —
- The Ascension is all about Jesus. Easter is our resurrection. Pentecost is the Spirit in us. But the Ascension? Jesus! Be happy for Jesus — He made it! His work is over.
- His power & Spirit now convert all things in this world to His Kindom.
- St Ignatius has one meditation, bridging the First Week and the Second Week called The Two Standards in which one presented two kings and their standards and the choice of whom you would follow. He ends the Spiritual Exercises with a meditation on the Ascension of Jesus in Week 4. (Spoiler Alert: Jesus is represented in the Two Standards by the king in the muck with us, whose love calls out our very best giving and being selves.)
- RL confession — somehow and definitely NOT captured in my notes, Fr Dennis lucidly took us to the following story and insight, which I assure you made perfect heart and soul sense. In fact I can remember the feeling of God’s Love and consolation, but not the homiletic transition. Sorry!
- St Ignatius’ conversion and his sharing of his story (eventually, after a long time and much prompting by his fellow Jesuits) has much charming quirkiness. For example, when he finally succeeded in making his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Franciscans who held authority position in Christendom there, for the Church, essentially booted St Ignatius out. However, St. Ignatius then bribed his way back in, first with a penknife and then with a pair of scissors(!), to the place on the Mount Olivet near Bethphage that was marked as the place from where Jesus ascended. Apparently, even back then (in 1523) there was some plaque marking the “footprints” of Jesus Christ. Ignatius wanted to return a second time to see “the direction in which the right foot was pointing and which way the left” (Tylenda transl., 2001, A Pilgrim’s Journey)
- Dennis thought that these kinds of unique quirkinesses in us are just the sort of thing our parents and our Loving God love in us, tenderly.
In that spirit … or Spirit, I found a replica of the Ascension footprints and used it as the blog image. 🙂
Sunday’s gospel passage has one of my all time favorite phrases: μετὰ χαρᾶς μεγάλης with great joy (in some translations — “exceeding great joy”). While, of course, it made sense on one level — “Jesus Ascended and we saw it!,” there are some additional layers.
With apologies to the variety of uncited theologians and historians who have helped me form this understanding: 40 days after utterly and completing abandoning Jesus in Jerusalem and running for their lives, all of the apostles and disciples went back into Jerusalem to praise Him and share the Word of Love.
At that time, there had been all kinds of “messiahs” running around. The disappearance or death of one more was not a big deal. But one historian, perhaps Josephus, noted that it was this act — the return of the disciples to the scene of the crime if you will, joyfully, filled with presence and consolation, and a scenario in which they could reasonably believe THEY would also be put to death — this is the act that convinced many of the Resurrection and Jesus as the Son of God, the promised Messiah. It is a humble reminder and compass setting across the millennia.
A Merry Ascension to you, Jesus!