One of the big events the city and the province are preparing for is the upcoming Pam Am and Parapam Games. The games begin on July 10 and whole event will end Aug 15th. Stadiums and the athlete’s village are all under construction. Commuters are going crazy with all the road work being done to be ready when the games start. Athletes will be here from Canada, the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America. There will be an extraganza at the opening and closing of the games.
The high light of each event will be when the athletes go to the podium to receive their medals in recognition of their years of the hard work of training and discipline. It is then they know it was all worthwhile.
Stretch your imagination a bit and see today’s feast of the Ascension of Jesus as His going to podium to receive his gold medal and the praise of his father. His great feat was obeying the Father’s will and emptying himself of his divinity and taking to himself our humanity. Jesus humbled himself by enduring a humiliating death of a common criminal. Because of this the Father raised Jesus up in the Resurrection and gave him a name above every other name that can be named, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Jesus’ medals are his five wounds, blazing badges of his undying love for each of us.
Maybe we could also imagine that standing on the podium with Jesus are his Mother Mary and her husband Joseph both of whom made their lives available to God so that the Word could be made flesh and dwell amongst us.
The resurrection of Jesus and this feast of his Ascension to the Father are inseparable. The church separates their celebration so that we better grasp the meaning of two aspects of a single, indivisible event.
But what has all that to do with us?
In our first reading, Paul’s letter to the Christian community in Ephesus, he prays for his converts that God give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation as they come to know him, so that with the eyes of their heart enlightened they may come to know what is the hope to which Christ calls them, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance, what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for those who believe. Paul is praying that these good people come to appreciate and embrace the deep relationship they have with the Father Son and Holy Spirit because of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul calls them to live a life that is worthy of the calling to which they have been called.
A number of years ago I attended a funeral for one of our priests and the homilist was using the example of an up and coming baseball pitcher. The pitcher never realized his dreams. As the homilist said, pointing to his head – he had it here – and then pointing to him arm – but he didn’t have it here.
When it comes to our faith in Jesus our Christ most of us have it here – in our heads, we know all the prayers, we can recite the apostle’s creed, but how many of us have it here – in our hearts? How many of us know, as St. Paul says, with the eyes of our hearts what is the hope to which the risen Christ calls us? How many of us open our lives to a loving, life giving relationship with Christ? How many of us really trust in the love of the crucified Christ? How many of us see our faith as a reality that is meant to grow and deepen in and through our relationship with other people? Do we really believe we meet Christ, serve Christ and love Christ in every person who comes into our lives?
On this feast of the Ascension, this feast of fulfillment we can all ask for that spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know him, so that with the eyes of our hearts enlightened we may come to know what is the hope to which Christ calls each one of us and what are the riches of his glorious inheritance, what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for we who believe. May we have it here and most importantly have it here.