In his letter to the Philippines St. Paul tells us that Jesus did not consider his equality with God as something to be grasped at but he emptied himself of his divinity and took to himself our humanity, becoming as we all are. Jesus became an obedient slave, living an obedience that brought him to his shameful, humiliating death on the cross. But this is not the end of the story.
Paul goes on to say because of Jesus’ great act of obedience God the Father exalted the diminished and humiliated Jesus in and through his resurrection from the dead and his ascension into heaven. This feast of the Ascension we celebrate today is all part the final vindication and exaltation of the crucified Christ. In the resurrection and ascension the Father gives Jesus a name that is above all other names to that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue should confess the Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It is depressing to read about or watch on TV the uprooted lives of millions of men, women and children as they seek refuge from civil war in their homelands. It’s discouraging when we know of the human trafficking that destroys the lives of young children. We wonder where is God when find out about the exploitation of men, women and children’s labor in the sweat shops of Asia and even in Canada. The working poor are part of the social fabric of our country.
These examples of man’s inhumanity to man must never blind us from seeing all the good and generous people who reach out to help their brothers and sisters. The response of European countries, the response of Canada to open our borders and welcome these good people who have lost so much is an expression of the resurrection of Jesus. Professional and volunteer men and women who go to poverty stricken or disease stricken area of the world are witnessing to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus even though they may not know it. Men and women involved in environmental and ecological issues trying to sensitize us to the damage we are doing to the life systems of Earth witness to the resurrection and ascension of the Lord. We are surrounded by countless examples of the goodness and the generosity of good people as they respond to the needs of men, women and children whose lives have been turned upside down by civil strife, religious persecution or natural disasters. Just look at Fort McMurray.
We need great faith in the love of God to see that the passion, death, the resurrection and ascension are all part of the truth that love is stronger that hatred, that justice will prevail over injustice, that the violence wreaked by terrorists and religious fanatics will not prevail and that our own personal tragedies will be overcome as we find within ourselves a strength and resilience we never knew we had.
I don’t intend to sugar coat people’s reality but as we continue to celebrate this Mass in which make present the passion and death of Jesus and celebrate his vindication celebrating his resurrection and ascension may we all be blessed with a strong conviction that no matter how bad things are in the world or in our personal life the presence and love of God conquers all things and in the end, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.