Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Ascension Readings

The apostles and disciples gathered to hear Jesus’ final words of instructions and He instructed them to, “Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”  It is the same command that is repeated each time we celebrate Eucharist together, “Go forth.”

If we recall, the apostles and disciples only a few weeks earlier, were huddled in the upper room for fear of the Jews.  They were confused and could not comprehend the meaning of Jesus’ death on a cross and especially His resurrection.  It almost seemed as though they expected the risen Savior to be visibly present to them forever. 

What did the apostles and disciples do after Jesus had ascended? “They went forth and preached everywhere.”  The apostles and disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit and received the gifts of the Spirit which would empower them to proclaim the good news of God’s love and mercy for all His people.  

Paul tells us that the gifts of the Spirit were poured out upon the community of believers.  Paul tells us,
“These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

These gifts were distributed among the community of believers.  Individually, no one had all the gifts but collectively, they possessed all the gifts. 

Often, we try to stand up against evil in our world and we try to do it alone.  But Jesus calls us to community so that the community will possess the presence of God in its midst and can stand against the power of evil in the name of Jesus.

What happens when we try to do it alone?  I will share a story with you.  In medieval times, there was a great army and they had conquered many cities and had now arrived at the most formidable of them all.  This city had high walls of stone and were several feet thick.  It was certain death to scale the wall, so the commander of the invading forces lined up his cannon and bombarded the wall night and day.  The result was that the cannon had no effect on the wall and the opposing soldiers were laughing at the invading forces.  After several days of frustration, the commander called his senior engineer and asked him for his evaluation.  The engineer studied the wall and told the commander to aim the cannon at the bottom of the wall.  The engineer said that the wall had been built upon a smaller wall, but the smaller wall did not have the foundation to support the new structure on top.  So, the commander ordered the cannon aimed at the lower part of the wall, and in a short time the foundation could not hold, and the wall collapsed.

Each of us has a solid foundation of faith built upon the faith of the apostles and fortified by sacramental grace.  Our foundation is only built to sustain us in the things we are called by God to do.  The greater victory, of defeating evil and bringing salvation to the whole world, is a communal calling and one we must do hand in hand with our brothers and sisters.

Evil, unfortunately, had once again raised its head in the Congress of the United States and in the administration.  There is a move to remove the Hyde amendment from law which basically does not allow unlimited abortions on demand.  The Hyde amendment has prevented the killing of million of babies in the womb during the third trimester of pregnancy.   Along with HR 5, a house bill that would allow for financial damages if a church or religious organizations policies and practices are deemed discriminatory against gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people.  The Catholic Church’s position that marriage is between one man and one woman, would be discriminatory under HR 5.

We need stand as a community in prayer.  We must pray for the power to cast out demons from our world and our society and we must do it together in the name of Jesus.  Without the protection of life, all our other freedoms are worthless.

May God continue to bless you,

Deacon Phil