Homily – June 2, 2019

Today we celebrate that moment in time when Christ returned to heaven after his death on a cross of shame and his glorious resurrection from the dead. Scholars say that the resurrection and the ascension are not two successive events but the church celebrates then separately in order to appreciate the deep meaning of the two aspects of the single indivisible event.

The core message of the Ascension is expressed in our opening prayer – ‘The Ascension of your Son is our exaltation for where he has gone before in glory we hope to follow.’ Christ’s resurrection from the dead is a pledge of our resurrection and his ascension in a pledge of our ascension; in God’s way and in God’s time.

There is a hymn sung on this feast that sings

Lo! the heaven its Lord receives, alleluia!

yet he loves the earth he leaves; alleluia!

though returning to his throne, alleluia!

still he calls mankind his own. alleluia!

Still for us he intercedes, alleluia!

his prevailing death he pleads, alleluia!

near himself prepares our place, alleluia!

he, the first-fruits of our race. alleluia!

We could see this feast as Christ saying to the Father, Mission accomplished. In other words what you sent me into the world I have done; I sacrificed myself for your sons and daughters, I have made peace between You and the human family through the blood of the cross. As St. Paul would say of himself as he knew his own death was near; ‘I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’ Mission accomplished!

At one time or another we’ve all had that sense of accomplishment. We’ve finished exams, we’re graduating with a hard earned degree or we’ve just got a promotion. It could be something very simple such as we’ve made a difficult phone call or sent that difficult e mail or we’ve made a long delayed visit to a friend in a retirement home of hospital. We did it.

The question for each of us is, when the hour of our death comes can we look back over our life and say, ‘mission accomplished, maybe not perfectly, but we did the best we could. We did the best we could to accept people into our lives regardless of their race or religion, regardless of their life style or politics. We saw them as men and women loved by God as we are. We did our best to work for social justice, a living wage and adequate housing. We did our best to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus and his church. We did our best. We ran the race, the kept the faith. By God’s grace,Mission accomplished.