VIEWING THIS BLOG
If you subscribe to this Blog, which of course is FREE, the format which arrives in your inbox is all over the place. Might I suggest to you that you use the Blog alert for you to go back to www. realhomilies.com and view it in the way in which I posted it….hopefully it will be neat and tidy. Finally, if you find some typos, I apologise for them, sometimes errors do escape my eye. Thanks, Fr.Kev
As they were straining their eyes to see him, two white-robed men suddenly stood there among them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, just as you saw him go, he will return!”
This event happened forty days after the resurrection of Christ and is celebrated in many paintings and icons. Likewise, Christians celebrate it as a feast day around the globe. And though the Ascension of Jesus occurs over one month after the end of Lent, it is still an integral part of the Easter story and season.
The Gospel of Luke provides a vivid account of the day when Christ ascended to heaven. We are told that that Jesus led his followers out to Bethany, and the Lord “lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up in heaven.”
The book of Acts provides greater detail about what happened after Jesus disappeared into the clouds. As the disciples looked into the sky, two men clothed in white asked them, “Men of Galilee, why are you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, taken up from you into heaven, shall come again as you have seen him go into heaven.”
As for us, we can celebrate the Ascension and the comfort it gives us as the children of God. Bishop N.T. Wright wrote in his book, Surprised by Hope, that, “To embrace the Ascension is to heave a sigh of relief, to give up the struggle to be God (and with it the inevitable despair at our constant failure), and to enjoy our status as creatures: imagebearing creatures, but creatures nonetheless.”
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.
First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’
As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’ The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)
Psalm: Ps 46:2-3. 6-9
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:
a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
All peoples, clap your hands,
cry to God with shouts of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, we must fear,
great king over all the earth. R.
God goes up with shouts of joy;
the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.
Sing praise for God, sing praise,
sing praise to our king, sing praise. R.
God is king of all the earth.
Sing praise with all your skill.
God is king over the nations;
God reigns on his holy throne. R.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet, and made him as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation. The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday!
We never say it… 🙂
Gospel: Mark 16:15-20
Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it. The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Reflection time again……. Can you see and hear the links, connecting the First Reading, Second Reading and the Gospel? After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.
Focusing the word
Key words and phrases
Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation.
The Lord worked with them.
Lead a life worthy of your vocation.
Bear with one another in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience.
There is one Body, one Spirit.
One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all.
Each one of us has been given our own share of grace.
May we follow where he has lead.
to the point
The ascension marks the completion of Jesus’ historical ministry and the beginning of our own commission to proclaim the gospel. We do not do this on our own authority. We undertake our mission ‘through the Holy Spirit’ (first reading) and manifest the Holy Spirit through our mission. But always the mission is Christ’s.
Connecting the Word
to Easter and Pentecost
Our own taking up the mission to proclaim the gospel (ascension) is always in light of the resurrected Christ (Easter) and empowered by the Spirit (Pentecost). Easter, ascension, Pentecost are all one mystery and we participate in this mystery by proclaiming the gospel.
to our religious experience
It is easy to be distracted by the spectacular signs mentioned in this gospel (snake handling, drinking deadly poison) and lose sight of the hard work of living the real message of the gospel (humility, gentleness, bearing with one another – second reading).
Understanding the Word
Jesus commissions the apostles
Biblical scholars have long noted that Mark 16:15-20 is not an original part of Mark’s gospel. The entire ‘Longer Ending’ (16:9-20) was added to provide a more satisfying conclusion than that found in 16:1-8. Most of the material in this longer ending reiterates stories from Luke 24 and John 20. Nevertheless, these verses provide an appropriate ending to Mark’s gospel.
Mark began his gospel with Jesus ‘proclaiming the gospel,’ calling people to ‘repent and believe’ (1:14-15). The gospel ends with Jesus sending out disciples to ‘proclaim the gospel,’ calling people to ‘believe and [be] baptised’ (16:16). Throughout the gospel disciples and people in general struggled to understand and to believe Jesus. But now that Jesus has been raised and his identity as the Son of God has been confirmed by his death and resurrection, the urgency of believing is spelled out: belief and baptism lead to salvation, but failure to believe leads to condemnation. Such ultimate consequences explain the urgency that the disciples ‘proclaim the gospel to every creature.’
Just as Jesus had performed many signs, expelled demons, and laid his hands on the sick, the disciples will now do the same. The expectation that disciples would perform signs similar to those of Jesus is reflected in other New Testament sources (Matt 21:21; John 14:12; Acts 3:6; 9:34, 40). The purpose of these signs is not to exalt the status of the individual disciple or apostle, but to bear visible witness to the power and presence of Jesus at work in those who believe. Like the deeds of Jesus, such signs point to the emerging triumph of God’s reign; they are ‘first fruits’ of the resurrection, that is, the wholeness and fullness of life that is signified by the resurrection is already being manifest when the power of evil is broken and the sick are made well. But the deepest significance of the disciples’ performing these signs is that they are continuing to do as Jesus had done: though Jesus has ascended to heaven, his work continues in the work of those who believe in him.
A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
In today’s gospel Jesus gives his final message, his final instructions, his final promise, and his final blessing to his apostles. It is obvious that they believed what he said because, after the Spirit came upon them at Pentecost, they went forth to do exactly as he had told them, and they discovered that all his promises were being fulfilled. Let’s now look at the meaning of the Ascension. Some years ago, I was teaching at Casimir College in Marrickville, a suburb of Sydney. I remember giving my home Room Year 10 Class (Form 4 in the UK) a very interesting Religious Studies project. It was about this time of the year, and we were looking at the fullness of the Easter mystery. In preparation for the Feast of the Ascension I gave my class copies of the readings that we have today, and to conclude the comprehension questions, I added a mystery question. Here it is: What do you think that the Gospel community were saying to their listeners and readers about the Ascension of the Lord, in relation to His apostles and disciples? Kindly illustrate your answer by a drawing done by you….and nobody else. Can you imagine how excited these 15-16 years olds were???? I can still remember some of their spoken comments…”Oh, Fr.Kev that’s too hard? Fr.Kev I am hopeless at drawing. Hey Fr.Kev, does the best answer get a prize??? In answer to that one I said, “Oh Yes, there is a great mystery prize”. As you can guess, their enthusiasm was as flat as a tack! But, I knew that they would get down to it…so often Teenagers have more bark than bite! They had a week to complete the project, and they had to write at least one page for there answer. The following week, after the Liturgy of the Ascension which in Australia and New Zealand we celebrate on a Sunday, we had a look at their responses. For work like this, I would generally divide the class into random groups of 5, and we had particular rules of engagement….Following the Group ‘show and tell’ we had a report back session from each group to the whole class. The responses were fascinating to say the least; a number of reports had Jesus taking off like a rocket heading towards Heaven. Others had Jesus just gently lifting off from the ground, but there was one drawing which was amazing! One of the boys had a very unusual picture of Jesus, in fact there were five pictures of Jesus, each one was fainter till in the fifth one you could hardly see Jesus at all, and these pictures were not heading towards Heaven. There was a sign post pointing towards Galilee. This very clever boy told the class that he didn’t think that Jesus when up into the sky at all. He said that he believed that the Apostles and Disciples who created this story were using a particular form of writing, which expressed that Jesus was gradually not with them as he used to be, in fact his face will be seen in the faces of the people in Galilee and beyond. I tell you, this rocked the class, and me as well. As was my custom, if prizes were to be awarded, we would have a secret written vote, and the one with the most votes got the prize. It was so good to see the outcome of the voting. About 75% voted for the Vietnamese boy who painted the pictures of Jesus disappearing, and gave the commentary that I have just shared with you. It was brilliant. Now, I bet you are thinking what was the prize? Well, it was two $10 McDonald’s food vouchers. The bloke who was the Manager of the local McDonalds was Greek, and he had his kids going to our school….so the freebies came in very handy. As I look back, I do apologise for promoting junk food….mea culpa, mea culpa.
So therefore this Solemnity is a very important part of that unique jewel we call the Easter mystery. It is not an event in the life of the Risen Lord that is studied in isolation. Between Easter Sunday and Pentecost we celebrate that time of modification or change, during which the risen Jesus vanishes from the sight of his disciples, only to open up a new way of relating to them – a way so desirable that every person has the potential to be filled with his presence.
As if by a bridge spanning a river, so the disciples had now to leave the familiar bank of the natural presence of Jesus and cross to the other side – as yet unknown territory – where they will be taken hold of by the Spirit of their risen Lord.
The synoptic Gospels that are Matthew, Mark and Luke present Jesus to us from the angle of their particular purpose in writing the Good News and from their own community background for a specific audience. For example, the new Elijah has been removed from them (Luke’s Gospel), but Emmanuel, God with us, remains ever present to his Church (Matthew’s Gospel), enthroned by God in his kingdom in today’s Gospel from Mark.
Certainly, after his last appearance, Jesus seemed to depart from his disciples. But his invisible presence became more concentrated in depth and scope in a way that would have been impossible had his former bodily presence continued.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit, this new presence promised by the Father is established forever. Jesus uses a very beautiful way of expressing the gift that will come to the disciples in today’s Gospel, “Stay in the city until you are clothed with the power from on high.” Therefore, the Ascension is not a question of’ looking into the sky’, but of being confirmed believers in the Risen Lord, because He is alive and well in the ‘Galilee’ of our lives, that is in the day to day events that call us to respond to the Christ in each other.
The Ascension is that middle picture or image within a triptych, which one would see in an Art Gallery that is a set of three associated pictures, hinged or tied together. The only way that one can understand the complete meaning is by looking and reading the pictures from left to right, thus seeing them as a whole containing three important parts. Let us pray:
O God, we believe that Jesus, the Word made flesh,
Lives in you and in us.
Strengthen our faith, hope and love that your reign
Will be proclaimed in our lives,
And the presence of your Spirit
Be manifested in our thoughts,
Words and actions.
This we ask of you through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God Bless you and your families and may we never forget each other in prayer. Fr.Kevin
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…
Leader: With joy and hope in our hearts because of the victory of Christ, let us pray in the name of him who now sits at the right hand of the Father.
For the Church: may all those who are baptised into the Body of Christ be conscious of the call to give witness to the Gospel. Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
For all nations and races: may Christ draw all people together in trust and peace. Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
For churches and Christians throughout the world: may we grow together in faith and in love, until we attain that unity which is your will. Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
For the newly baptised and those welcomed into our Community at Easter: may they with the Holy Spirit’s power call to be loved filled witnesses: may they know the immeasurable power of God at work in those who believe. Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and ipads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
For our family: may we remember Jesus’ promise to be with us until the end of the world. Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
For those taken from our sight by death, especially members of our family, and people that we have known: may they be with Christ for ever. Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.
Leader: Heavenly Father, grant that we may follow your Son faithfully on earth and come to share his glory in heaven. We ask this through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
Leader: The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.