Homily – May 28, 2017

This has been a rough week for a lot of people, especially the families of those killed or wounded in the bombing that took place in Manchester, England. It is hard to imagine what goes on in the minds of the people responsible for such horrendous acts. Setting a bomb designed to kill and maim young people enjoying a concert. Speaking of horrendous acts, there was the murder of Coptic Christians on pilgrimage to a shrine. Then there was the signing of an arms deal between the U.S. the Saudis. Think of the destruction to human life and property that will result from such a deal. The lives of innocent men, women and children will be snuffed out, homes and schools and hospitals will be destroyed all in the name of profit and greed cloaked in the robe of national security.

Maybe some of you good people are experiencing your own time of terror, your own time of fright and fear. Pope John 23rd made the observation that behind every front door there is a cross. Maybe you are waiting for test results or you’ve just got results that are not good. Maybe there is the possibility of losing your job. Maybe you just can’t find a job. Maybe you are behind in your rent. Maybe what you thought was a good relationship has gone sour. Maybe your family life is disintegrating because serious conflicts or even separation. Maybe you’ve just discovered a son or daughter is caught in the web of addiction. All these and many other situations can be your own experience of a bomb blast that shatters your life. Our world, personal and social seems to be controlled by evil, greedy and unjust and hateful forces. At times we can find it hard to find the good and the generous and the beautiful in our world. The bright sun seems hidden by the black clouds of immorality and injustice.

Six weeks ago this past Friday we observed Good Friday. Notice I didn’t say we celebrated, we observed, we remembered in sorrow the sufferings of Jesus our Christ. We remembered how evil religious and political men decided it was better for an innocent man to die to maintain their political and religious stability. We remember how Jesus, a man who went about doing good, who called people to have compassion and love for one another was reduced to a victim of mockery and brutality. He was crowned with the mock thorn crown of kingship, declared innocent and yet scourged. We remember his way to the cross, his being nailed to the cross and his painful and lonely death on the cross. We remembered his was wounded for our offences and that by his wounds we were healed.

Today we celebrate the feast of Christ’s Ascension, his being taken up in glory. The resurrection and the Ascension of Jesus cannot be separated; they are separated in order to contemplate the meaning of two aspects of a single, indivisible event. Both feasts celebrate Christ’s vindication, his glorification. Both feasts teach us that the sacrifice of his life on the cross was accepted by the Father. As St. Paul teaches it was for this cause – his acceptance of death – that God has exalted him and given him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus ever knee should bend in heaven and on earth and every tongue should confess that Jesus the Christ is Lord.

These feasts of resurrection and ascension shout out loud that evil and hatred and injustice are not the final words in our lives.

A number of years ago Cardinal Wyszynski of Warsaw visited Auschwitz – the infamous concentration camp where thousands of Jews and Poles were worked and starved to death and finally executed. Auschwitz was the epitome of evil, of hatred. The Cardinal said to those who were with him, you see this place, the barracks are decaying, the barbwire fence is rotting, the ovens and cold and empty – those who ran this terrible place are remembered in shame and dishonor – those who survived this place of death now live new and fruitful lives. Evil does not and will not prevail. Love and life prevail.

The hatred and evil wrought on Jesus did not prevail – Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

The sadness, the anxiety, the hurt you may now be facing will not endure, will not win. God’s grace and love and mercy are with you – whether you realize it or not and you will, with God’s grace, overcome, you will prevail. Christ’s victory is our victory. Where he has gone we hope to follow.

The final words of Jesus in today’s gospel command us to go into our world, however limited ours may be, and by the way we face and endure our own sufferings, we witness to the wonderful truth that love conquers hatred, acceptance of other people into our lives shows the shallowness of bigotry, that is it better to give than to receive, that injustice and greed are a one way street to nowhere. Those who live in love live in God.