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Ascension of the Lord, Year C
Homily. Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23; Luke 24:46-53.

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White Stole and Gospel
Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23; Luke 24:46-53


THEME OF THE READINGS
Christ´s ascension to heaven marks both an end, and a beginning: a finale to his early ministry (Gospel), and the launch of the Church´s mission to evangelize the world. The time of his return is unknown (First Reading), thus, we need to ready at every moment.

DOCTRINAL MESSAGE
Christ´s visible return to heaven assures us that the One who suffered and died for us sits at the right hand of the Father "on our behalf" (First Reading). The Mass re-presents the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary; Christ doesn´t "die again," as some non-Catholics misconstrue the Church as teaching. Jesus´ death on the cross is effective for redemption in all ages. Carried out in time, his death brings fruits that go beyond time.

Yet, time retains a serious dimension within salvation history. "It is appointed that men and women die once, and after this the judgment" (Second Reading). The life we live right now is the only life we have in which to work out our eternal destiny. Time, in fact, is a great gift of God: we know not its duration, so Our Lord invites us to use it well ("For you do not know on which day your Lord will come" _ Matthew 24:42).

The relative brevity of life should propel us to see every moment as a building block for eternity. Indeed, its brevity helps give life its very importance. Why get out of bed in the morning, if life were endless? Earthly time being short, even our simplest acts can take on a lofty quality _ "whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). Christ´s very ascension reminds us that he worked with a time limit.

Jesus left behind, so to speak, his Church, the Holy Spirit, and a mission to proclaim his message to the ends of the earth (Gospel). Baptism obliges us to support this mission, be it through our prayers, our financial support, or even our very lives.

Catechesis
: Only Christ can open the Father´s house to us. So we can have confidence that we too shall go where he has preceded us (CCC 661). Jesus, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, enters into heaven "to appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (CCC 662). Our Lord´s ascension lets us live in the hope of one day being with him for ever (CCC 666). Death is the end of man´s earthly pilgrimage; there is no reincarnation (CCC 1013).

PASTORAL APPLICATIONS
Gift of the Spirit. Christ´s gift of the Spirit does not preclude the intervention of the Church. Indeed, the presumed movements of the Spirit must be tested. "Do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). The Spirit who guides the Church "to all truth" (John 16:13) won´t lead us down a wrong path. If we think the Spirit is telling us one thing, but the Church says another, then we must defer to the Church. More than a few souls have strayed by pursuing what they think is an inspiration from God, when in fact it was their own whims in disguise.

Jesus as intercessor. Christ is not a mere historical figure. History hasn´t bracketed off Christ from us. He remains living, now and always. The Christ to whom we pray is a living God, and a living friend. Although removed from our sight, he remains present among us, supporting us through the sacraments and teaching us through the magisterium. Our belief in his real presence in the Eucharist should manifest itself in our comportment in church.

Time as Kingdom. We work out our eternity on earth. Do we make the most of our time? How does the amount of time we spend in prayer, Mass, and works of charity measure up to the hours we spend watching TV? By age 65 the average American will have spent nearly nine years watching television, according to one survey. On Judgment Day we would have to account for those nine years. Do we use our time well? Do we order our days well, or do we improvise?

 

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