Tuesday, May 10, 2016

'Where's Jesus?' Three answers (Ascension homily)

This homily didn't have a text, but I followed a mental outline. It varied from Mass to Mass. What follows is an approximation of what I said at least at one Mass, if not all.

Today we observe the Ascension...I explained how bishops decided to observe on Sunday, although the actual event was on a Thursday, 40 days after the Resurrection.

This feast raises a question: Where's Jesus? He was here, but he ascended. Where is he?

The obvious answer is, "he's in heaven." And that's true, and I want to come back to that. But there are two other answers.

Second answer? He is in the people you and I are sent to serve. I recalled the passage in Matthew 25, with the sheep and goats, and those who feed the hungry, clothed the naked, etc., did it for Jesus; and the opposite with the goats: they did not do these things for Jesus, because they neglected the "least of my brothers." I pointed out that Jesus included those in prison, and people in prison are usually bad people. So there is no limit -- we are told to serve Jesus is every single person, without exception.

I also linked this to the Gospel telling us to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. Our witness of the Gospel has no credibility if we do not meet people's hunger and thirst and so forth.

The third answer, to "where is Jesus?" Is in the Eucharist. And I explained that as important as it is to recognize the Eucharist is Jesus' true and real presence, his Body and Blood, the point of the Eucharist is to unite us with Jesus; so we become part of him. This extends his Mystical Body throughout the world.

And then I circled back and talked about Jesus in heaven; which means, a human being, like us, sits on the throne of heaven. Human nature could not be exalted higher than that. I pointed out Jesus did not disrobe from his humanity when he ascended, but took it with him. And I pointed out the implications...

Human dignity is divine dignity. Every human being, from the first moment of conception to natural death, possesses this dignity. I talked about assaults on life at the beginning, especially disabled children, and also about the spread of "assisted suicide." I pointed out that it is a lie to say these laws are about remedying pain; there are many ways to help people in pain -- sometimes the government gets in the way -- and that the evidence shows more often, people resort to "assiste suicide" because they are sad, discouraged and without hope. And I predicted that if too many doctors and nurses and hospitals refused to go along, government will come back and force doctors and hospitals to provide this "right."

I also explained that the great confrontation, which is now upon us, is what Pope St. John Paul predicted, the confrontation between Church and anti-Church, Gospel and anti-Gospel, and it is about the design and dignity of human nature. At one of the Masses, I talked about torture, and how this is unacceptable because it both degrades the dignity of the one being tortured, as well as those who are tasked to carry it out.

I concluded by talking about our goal -- which is heaven. I don't recall just how I worded my conclusion.

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