Monday, May 13, 2013

Feast of the Ascension May 12, 2013

Today on this Feast of the Ascension I’d like to tell you all where to go.  I mean of course, to heaven.  
          Because our feast today, the Ascension, raises the question of “where do you belong?”  Another way to put this is, what is your ultimate goal?  Where are you headed?  Where is your heart’s true desire and destination?
          Today we celebrate the Ascension.  Jesus goes to heaven.  Some might think this was to get away from all of us fickle, faithless, half-hearted followers of His.   But that is not so.  The Preface which I will pray in just a few minutes puts it nicely: “He ascended, not to distance himself from our lowly state / but that we, His members, might be confident of following where He, our Head and Founder, has gone before.” 
          This is an image that can resonate well with us Americans and Texans.  Jesus is like the frontier scout, the trail blazer, who prepares the way before us.  He ascended into heaven and so blazes the trail we are to follow.  The Prayer After Communion at the Vigil for this Feast states: “Lord, kindle in our hearts a longing for the heavenly homeland / and cause us to press forward, following in the Savior’s footsteps, to the place where for our sake He entered before us.” 
          The image I get is of Jesus as Daniel Boone or Davey Crockett, or John C Fremont.  Think of John Wayne as the wagon train scout intrepidly going ahead to open up the way for the settlers to follow.  Jesus finds and leads the way.  But Jesus leads us not to some strange and exotic place, some wild and wooly frontier settlement, but rather to our true homeland, to the place we were created to inhabit, where we truly belong, where our hearts yearn and long for, our true homeland.
          The Prayer After Communion for this Mass says “draw us onward to where our nature is united with You.”  The land we long for is not so much a place but rather a state of being united with God.  It is about relationship and union; the union with God that we were created for.  It is the fulfillment of all our deepest longings and desires.  It is the condition of our complete fulfillment.  It is our true destiny.  It is our true home.
          I conclude with the wish of St. Paul for you in today’s second reading: 
“May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe,…” 
Happy Ascension!   Amen.  

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