The feast of the Ascension is NOT about Jesus leaving us.
Rather, it’s about where Jesus wants to take us:
he goes ahead of us, to heaven. That’s where he wants us.
The Ascension is about heaven; Jesus wants to take us to heaven.
Likewise, our worship together
is likewise about getting us to heaven.
Not everyone really gets this.
For one, way too many people take going to heaven for granted,
pretty much no matter what.
So if Mass isn’t about heaven, what is it about?
Well, for a lot of people, they see it as helping their outlook on life,
or giving them something to think about, or mainly feeling good.
I know these things are true because people have said them to me.
Not that there’s anything wrong with these things,
but I’m sorry, those are not the point of Mass.
Rather, Mass exists primarily to get people to heaven.
The Mass is essentially the same thing as the Cross.
Jesus did not go to the Cross to make anyone feel good,
or to improve anyone’s outlook on life.
He went to the Cross because of all the ways
God might have rescued and transformed humanity,
this was the best way. It’s what we need.
Had you been there, on Good Friday, as Jesus was in agony,
you would not have felt good.
Not everything Jesus said and taught was comforting.
Much of it was shocking, and if I am doing my job,
sometimes I will be shocking, too:
like an alarm clock that wakes us up,
or a medicine that hurts while it heals.
If you listen closely to the prayers of Mass,
you will hear words like sin and judgment and damnation,
as well as words like forgiveness, grace, conversion and salvation.
The souls of the human race hang in the balance!
Through Jesus, you and I plead for mercy and rescue!
There’s a house on fire, and Christ is the one putting out the fire.
You are here, not to watch, but to help pass the buckets!
It has been painful not to be able to attend Mass the past few weeks,
and how happy we all are to start again this week.
While I’m on that subject, let me do a little housekeeping.
First, I still need 160 people to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
This will help, and it costs you nothing. Please help with this.
Second, I sent out via email a link to an online sign-up.
The only reason we’re doing that is so you can get a sense
of how many people to expect at each Mass this week through Sunday.
No one has to sign up; and no will be turned away.
If more show up than can sit in church,
we’ll have chairs for outside,
or you can join in on your phone in your car.
The idea is that all of us see the whole picture,
which Masses are more crowded, and each of us
can try to spread out over the whole week,
and make it work better.
So please keep checking back to see what days are crowded,
and make your own decision about which one Mass,
between now and Sunday, you will attend.
I’m not saying people can’t go to Mass more than once a week;
it’s like a family dinner: let’s make sure everyone gets “firsts”
before we go back for “seconds.”
My plan is to try these sign-ups for a few weeks,
and we can get into a rhythm that works reasonably well.
Let’s focus on being patient and flexible this first week back.
Above all, please take reassurance in the fact that all this time,
the Holy Mass has continued to be offered;
here in this and every parish.
I’m glad we have the technical means to send it out over the Internet,
but even if not, the power of the Mass remains.
We don’t need wifi or Facebook or YouTube to connect to heaven:
Jesus does that, through this and every Mass.
It’s a little mind-boggling to say, but this is true:
Jesus is on the throne of heaven, at the right hand of the Father.
We’re part of his Body, so we’re really there with him.
And when we offer Mass, however humbly, through a sinner such as me,
Jesus is the true priest, and however far away heaven seems to us,
it really isn’t! We’re right there! The connection is instant and secure!