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The Ascension of the Lord

June 2, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


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In my homily last Sunday, I spoke about a number of different ways to understand who the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the love uniting Father and Son in the unity of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit also reminds us of all Jesus said and did.

The Holy Spirit is the source of unity, the bringer about of unity in times of conflict and division, as seen from the very beginning of the Church at the 1st Church Council in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit is also the gift of the peace of the Risen Lord. As the Risen Lord breathes on the disciples in that locked upper room, he says, “Peace be with you.” He gives them the Spirit, the gift of peace which the world cannot give.

Today, as we celebrate the wonderful mystery of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into glory, the Scriptures speak about the Holy Spirit as POWER! In Luke’s Gospel, before the Lord Jesus ascends into heaven, he comforts his disciples by saying they will be “clothed with power from on high.” This language at the end of Luke reminds us of the words of the archangel Gabriel at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel as Mary asks how it will happen that she will be the mother of the Son of God. Gabriel assures the Virgin Mary: “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Lk 1:35)

This power of God, this divine power, is given so we can be witnesses to the Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be the love of God for others. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be a source of unity and the very presence of the Lord’s peace in our world.

The Lord Jesus ascends into glory to be seated at the Father’s right hand in heaven, so that the Holy Spirit might descend in power upon the followers of the Lord Jesus. The power of the Spirit draws us home to the Father, for where the Son of God has gone we are called to follow. For by baptism, we have been joined to Him as members of His Body. The Risen Christ is the head of the Body, the Church, so that where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope.

In his human body while he walked the earth in 1st century Palestine, Jesus could only be present to a limited number of people. But now, through the powerful gift of the Spirit, He can be present to all people of all places of all times. The most basic “task” of the Holy Spirit is to make the Risen Lord Jesus present. Where the Spirit it, Christ Jesus is. By the Spirit, we are joined to Him as members of the Body are joined to the Head.

By ascending into glory and taken His place at the right hand of the Father in heaven in his glorified human body, the Lord Jesus has taken with him all humanity into heaven. He has shown us the way home.

Nothing and no one else satisfies us except for the fullness of life with God in heaven. For we have been made by God out of love, and to love we are called to return. All of our life on this earth is simply a return home to the God who made us out of love and for love forever. The Lord Jesus has prepared the way for us and shown us our destiny.

The mystery of the Ascension is not something that happened in the past, but by the power of the Spirit is happening now as we join in the procession of humanity back home to the Father’s side.

By the power of the Spirit, we have the strength to make this journey home. Our life in the Spirit is nourished as we process to the altar to be joined to the Risen and Glorified Lord in Holy Communion. As we join in this Communion procession, we come to the Lord Jesus to surrender our lives more completely into His Hands, that He might lead us home by the power of the Spirit.

So that instead of living out of fear, we can live lives of joy. So that instead of holding on to our money and material things, we can share them generously. Because we know that this earth is not our home but our lasting home is with the Triune God in heaven where we will experience the fullness of life.