Sunday, May 04, 2008

He is with us always...in the Eucharist (Ascension homily)

This feast of the Ascension comes at the tail-end
of the Easter Season, just before Pentecost.
We might wonder how it fits in.

On Easter, Jesus rose from the dead in his human body.
Then for 40 days, he was with his followers again.
we only know a little about what that was like.
We do know he restored the faith of Thomas and Peter.

We know he “opened their eyes”
to the meaning of his death and resurrection.
And he opened their eyes
to the meaning of the Eucharist:
remember how he made known to them
“in the breaking of the Bread”?

Everything is being readied for a new chapter—
the birth of the Church—and the key is the Holy Spirit.

Let me highlight some parallels:

In Genesis, creation begins
with the Spirit hovering over the waters.
Jesus is conceived in the womb of Mary
by the Holy Spirit who “overshadowed” her—
see how the window depicts it?

Notice how the Church will be born:
the Holy Spirit is sent from heaven—by Jesus.
This is where Jesus ascending to heaven fits in.

The question, then and now, had always been:
“Who is this Jesus?”
In the Gospels, that’s what everybody asks.
They kept scrambling for answers:
“He’s a prophet” “he’s a teacher,”
“he’s the Messiah we’ve hoped for”…

All true, but not enough.
People soon got the scary feeling
that there was something far more at work here.

When he silenced a storm on the sea,
His terrified disciples now asked in shock,
“What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

When he “taught with authority”—
that is, the authority of God himself—
the scribes and Pharisees asked,
“who do make yourself out to be?”

The full truth was beyond anyone’s imagining:
It was after the resurrection
that Thomas finally blurted it out:
“My Lord and my God!”
They knew, beyond doubt, that he was human, like them;
now, when they saw him ascend to the throne in heaven,
they also knew what Thomas had said:
“My Lord and my God!”

Yet, does there not seem to be a contradiction?
Jesus goes to heaven, yet he promised,
“I am with you always, until the end of the age”?

Saint Athanasius, whose feast was Friday,
made an excellent point here.

He wrote, “there is no part of the world
that was ever without” the presence of God the Son—
but it was an invisible presence.

“Taking pity on mankind’s weakness…
[the Son] took to himself a body,
no different from our own.”

But not merely to be seen—
above all, he did it to be an offering—
God took a body that could die.

But here’s the thing: if all that—
God-becoming-man, dying on the Cross,
and rising from the dead,
were so important to do at one point in time…
The question remains:
what about all of us who didn’t live back then?
How does God make these things real…to us?

The Mass and the Eucharist!
That’s why the 2nd Vatican Council said,
the Mass and the Eucharist
are the source and summit of our Faith.

Again, the key is the Holy Spirit.
I pointed out the parallels:
The Holy Spirit…at creation;
The Holy Spirit…overshadowing Mary;
The Holy Spirit, descending on Pentecost.
But there’s one more:

Just before the climax of the Mass,
the priest stands at the altar,
and begs the Holy Spirit to come down,
that these gifts of bread and wine
“become for us the Body and Blood
of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Without the Eucharist,
Jesus’ presence in the world—
goes back to being invisible.

In the bulletin, you’ll see that in two weeks,
Our parishes will honor the Eucharist in a special way.
We’ll have a weekend of adoration,
all day and night, at St. Mary.
This will take the place of adoration at St. Clare Chapel.

Then, on Sunday, May 18, after the noon Mass,
we’ll have a procession, with the Eucharist,
from St. Mary Church to St. Boniface Church.
Father Tom, Father Ang and I—
along with all of you I hope!—
will carry our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist,
on the streets of our city!

You and I will proclaim to Piqua:
“Our Lord and our God!”
We will show that we believe Jesus is with us always,
even to the end of the age!

Please look in the bulletin for details,
And there are a lot of ways to participate and to help.

We don’t need to gaze up into heaven.
He has not left us.
The throne of heaven is no longer up there, far away:
The throne of heaven is right here!
He is with us always, even to the end of the age!
Amen.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your love for Jesus in the Eucharist. Where I live we were able to have a 40 hours devotion for a couple of years but under the new pastor, no discussion for it is allowed. Our adortion hours are withering.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Amen!

Susan said...

Thank you for a wonderful reflection. Jesus continuous presence in the Eucharist is incredible consolation. But as I further reflect on my blog (here: http://susanjoan.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/i-am-with-you-always/)I also think it important to remember that Jesus is with us everywhere - in you and in me and in everyone everywhere.