Dear One and All,
For those of you who receive this Blog as soon as it is published, I mentioned last week that I was off to Hospital for repairs. Well, I am back home again now. Everything went well for me, and I am grateful to the many people who while held in conversation with the Lord in prayer, remembered me. Thank you. I am not full of spark yet, but imporving a little each day, as my sister cares for my 92 year old mother, and me….following not too far behind….haha
Early this week, I received a Newsletter from the Passionist Community here in Australia, and attached, was a fantastic Reflection on the Ascension, put together by Fr.Brian Gleeson,C.P. I have known Brian since I was 17 years old, and he is one of the finest Doctors of Theology in Australia, and might I say, and beyond. Some Theologians that I have read, or studied or heard, certainly know what they are talking about, but I don’t think that everyone knew what they were talking about. Where as with Fr.Brian, he is clear, insightful, easy to understand, and above all, what he says makes sense! His Theology is heaveily based in, and on Scripture, flavoured by the unique Passionist Charism.
Seeing that I am not up to writing my Homilies at the moment, I wanted to share this with you, because I am very proud of Brian; a very fine and faithful son of St.Paul of the Cross – Passionist, and I have been fortunate to live in the same Community for some years in the past. I think that I have a pic of him…..let’s see what I can find… I present to you some precious reflections on the Ascension.
Sincerely in Christ Crucified, Fr.Kev…………………………….There is Fr.Brian Gleeson,CP…I knew that I had a pic somewhere…….
MAKING SENSE OF ASCENSION SUNDAY
Brian Gleeson CP
In the Creed today we will be saying of Jesus: ‘He ascended into heaven.’ What picture comes to mind when we think of Jesus ascending into Heaven? Do we picture him going up into the stratosphere like a space ship? At Cape Canaveral? If we do, we show that we don’t realize that the words of scripture about this are not to be taken literally. They are a poetic way of saying that Jesus is no longer on earth in a fleshly, physical and material way. The words of scripture mean that he has gone to God in his risen body and lives with God in light and glory. What they mean is that God who raised him from the dead has therefore honoured and exalted him. Does his being with God mean he is no longer with us? No, he is with us more strongly, more powerfully, than when he walked the roads and streets of Palestine. He is with us in spirit, i.e. in his gift to us of the Holy Spirit. He acts on us in all the ways the Spirit influences us. So we don’t go looking for him on the clouds or in the sky but in all the down-to-earth ways in which he told us we would find him? We find him in our reading, hearing and heeding of the scriptures, which speak of him. We find him in our celebration of the sacraments. Each of the seven sacraments is a sign of his presence and action. This is especially true of the Eucharist, which is specifically the sign and presence of his now glorified and spiritualized body. We find him in our practical love for our neighbour, and especially for our fellow human beings who are poor, neglected, sad, sorrowing, afraid or despairing. But if Jesus is no longer visible in the old familiar ways, how will people come to know of his presence? The answer is that he wants to make himself present through his disciples. So on this Feast of the Ascension we also remember the mission he gave his followers, including us, before he went home to God. This is to go and tell everyone everywhere the good news that Jesus is alive and that he is our Saviour, the one who changes people for the better through his gift of the Holy Spirit. So, before he disappears from sight he says to his followers in every century ‘You are my witnesses,’ and that in order to witness to him we will be ‘clothed with the power from on high’, the power that is the Holy Spirit. On the subject of witnessing, it’s worth remembering that Pope Paul VI said that ‘the world needs witnesses more than it needs teachers’. In fact, the world is full of both true and false teachers, but has far fewer witnesses, i.e. people who speak with their lives. Between the two roles there is the same difference as between saying and doing. A well-known proverb underlines this difference: ‘Actions speak louder than words’, more recently put by the rappers as, ‘Walk the walk, not just talk the talk.’ Being witnesses to Jesus is a very important role for parents of children, and especially when they are asked to help with the teaching of their children getting ready for First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. The words which parents say about meeting Jesus and belonging to the Church in each of these steps, will mean nothing if the parents don’t practise what they preach. What will the children think if their parents don’t go to Mass on Sunday, don’t ever make the sign of the cross with them, and don’t ever pray with them? The souls of children are like sheets of photographic film. Everything they see and hear in their childhood years leaves a trace, an imprint. One day the ‘film’ will be ‘developed’ and it will have its effects, good or bad. So, in summary, in ascending to heaven, Jesus has not left us. He has merely disappeared from our sight. This is similar to the Eucharist. So long as the host is outside us, we see it, we adore it. When we receive the host we no longer see it. It has disappeared from sight, but it has disappeared so that Jesus in the host can be within us, and so that he can be present to us in a new way, and even a more powerful way than when he walked our earth in the flesh. So, like the first disciples, we are not sad that Jesus has disappeared from sight, but glad, because he is still with us and still loving us in so many other ways. At Mass today, let’s make a point of thanking God that Jesus is not only risen and exalted into glory with God, but that he is also still with us, in powerful and loving ways, and above all through the gift of his Spirit, his alter ego, his second self!