Homily Feast of the Ascension Year B

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Homily Feast of the Ascension Year B

Reading 1: What we celebrate today is a major feast of the Paschal Mystery, which is God’s plan of salvation for us. It is the Feast of Transition. What is the Paschal Mystery? It is the core of the Gospel message: the Incarnation, the life, the teaching, the suffering, the death and resurrection, the Ascension of the Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

According to God’s plan the Son would become man, suffer, die, rise from the dead glorified and return to the Father, where he sits in glory at the right hand of the Father. He returned to the Father to prepare a place for us, to send the Holy Spirit and to intercede for us until he returns to judge the living and the dead.

In this reading he gives his final instructions to the Apostles, preparing them for the next great moment in the Paschal Mystery, namely the coming of the Holy Spirit, who would continue and complete the work of our salvation. Jesus came to save us, reconciling us to the Father as his sons and daughters. The Spirit comes to sanctify us and to empower us for mission.

The term “to be baptized with the Holy Spirit” implies those three graces: sanctification, empowerment and mission. To further elaborate the second grace, Jesus said: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Then he said that the mission is to be witnesses in the power of the Holy Spirit of the salvific plan of God.

We have been baptized in water and the Holy Spirit. We have received a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. In both Baptism, where we became disciples empowered to be holy, and in Confirmation, where we became empowered witnesses of Jesus, we have been given all we need to fulfill our role as disciple witnesses.

The question to ask is to what extent am I consciously growing and seeking to grow in holiness as a disciple of Jesus? And the second question is to what extent am I consciously witnessing my faith to others in the power of the Holy Spirit?

Reading 2: The reality of the Ascension and its effects are reflected in this reading by Paul. He proclaimed that the Father raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand above all other creatures and put all things under him. But because the coming of the Spirit had occurred upon the people in Ephesus, Paul prays for a stirring up of the gifts of the Spirit in the lives of the Christian disciple/witnesses. What gifts specifically? Wisdom and revelation, knowledge and understanding! Why these gifts? So that they may be freer to move in the empowerment gifts which would confirm their witness, such as prophecy, healing, discernment, faith, word of knowledge, etc.

Gospel: We heard Luke’s account in the Acts of the Apostles of the Ascension of Jesus, preparing for the coming of the Holy Spirit. We heard Paul’s teaching on the Ascension and its on-going effects in the life of the disciple/witnesses. Now, in the Gospel we have Mark’s proclamation. Anticipating the coming of the Spirit, Jesus instructs the apostles to proclaim the gospel of salvation to all, namely to witness his saving message. 

But in doing so, they are to be open to the very signs and wonders that he evidenced in his own ministry: deliverance, speaking in tongues, healing etc. This was to confirm what he told them at the Last Supper. “The man who has faith in me will do the things I did and far greater.” After the Ascension and Pentecost the Apostles and the disciples did what Jesus told them to do. Mark ends today’s Gospel with these words: “They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

It was the gift of the Spirit that empowered them and missioned them and has continued to so even till today through those who believe.

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