Homily Solemnity of the Ascension I must go to send the Holy Spirit

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Homily: Solemnity of the Ascension


Reading 1: What we celebrate today is a major feast of the Pascal Mystery, which is God’s plan of salvation for us.  The Paschal mystery includes the Incarnation, the life, teaching, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, his ascension into Heaven and coming of the Holy Spirit. This feast is the Feast of Transition.


Jesus told the Apostles at the Last Supper that he would return to the Father, where he would sit exulted at the right hand of the Father as Lord, where he would prepare a place for them, where he would intercede for them, and where he and the Father would send the Holy Spirit to continue his work on earth.


In today’s first reading Jesus gives his final instruction to the Apostles, preparing them for the next great moment in the Pascal Mystery, the coming of the Spirit to complete and continue the work of salvation and sanctification. 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 these two graces: sanctification and empowerment for mission. It is this second purpose that Jesus focuses on. As he was anointed by the Holy Spirit for mission when he was baptized, so they will experience the same anointing of the Holy Spirit. At first the apostles did not understand.  So Jesus said: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, then you will be my witnesses throughout the world.”


Earlier I said that this was the Feast of Transition. Not only it prepares for the coming of the Spirit, transitioning from Jesus to the Spirit, but it prepares for the transition from Jesus’ ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit to the apostles’ ministry in the power of the same Holy Spirit.


The coming of the Holy Spirit is crucial to the plan of God. It was not an afterthought. As important as the role of Jesus was in the salvation of the world, so is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church after Jesus completed his work on earth.


Gospel: Before the departure of Jesus according to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus gives the apostles his final instruction. What does he focus on? It is the empowerment gifts for evangelization, including healing of the sick and deliverance. He gave them their marching orders so that that work that he had accomplished through his death and resurrection may be effective in the lives of the people of the world.

After the Ascension, the Apostles did what they were commissioned to do. They proclaimed the Good News of Salvation with signs and wonders as their credentials. If Jesus had not left, they would have depended on him to do this work. He leaves for them to go in his name o spread the Good News he had revealed to them. He gave them the Spirit so that what they accomplished in Jesus’ name would be led and confirmed by the Spirit of Truth.


Reading 2: The reality of the Ascension and its effects are stated: The Father raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at his right hand above all other creatures. He has put all things under him. Thus we read in Philippians the Father glorified him and gave him a name above every other name and all must bow down and worship because Jesus Christ is Lord. But notice with this acknowledgement of the Ascension and Exaltation and total rule of Jesus is the role of the Holy Spirit


In our reading, Paul is writing to those who already have been baptized and empowered with the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. His prayer is that God would stir up the gifts of the Holy Spirit, specifically wisdom, revelation, knowledge and understanding. It would be obvious that the Spirit is leading when these gifts are evident. Do we see these gifts in our lives and in our ministry? Should we see these gifts alive in us? 

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