The Ascension of our Lord

Gospel of Mark 16: 15-20

Earlier this week Kristina and I were taking stock of the condition of our home.  As most of you know we are currently empty nesters… well, except for our youngest son who, thanks to the pandemic, is currently residing in our basement as he prepares to go back to college in the fall.  Anyway,  as empty nesters we are beginning to turn our attention to the overall condition of our home.  Taking measure of all the things that need to be updated, replaced, or repaired.  Having lived in our home for the past 20 some odd years, our home, for lack of a better description, is well used and the list of projects is quite long.

The garage roof needs replacing, the driveway needs patched, cracked and outdated windows need to be replaced and updated, scuffed floors need to be refinished, and the worn carpet needs, well just to be torn out.  And, of course, I cannot fail to mention the most glaring, the most argued over, and subsequently the most ignored repair item in our 25 years of marriage, trim.

Yes.  You heard me correctly.  Trim.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I stand here this morning and confess that the one repair project in our home, and, I might add, the simplest to complete, that has remained on the “need to fix” list the longest, is trim.  All the trim, whether it be baseboard, window, or door is either missing or in need of replacing and for some reason, though my wife could for sure give you a few, it all has gone untouched.

Now, some of you might be wondering why I should be talking about my many unfinished home projects on today, this seventh Sunday of Easter as we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord.

The Tradition of Church, celebrating the Ascension of our Lord 40 days after Easter is indeed an incredibly old one.  There is some evidence that the celebration of this day was established as early as the 2nd Century.  St. Augustine described this celebration as an “Apostolic Tradition.”  However, most church scholars confer that the tradition of celebration the Ascension of our Lord 40 days after Easter was an accepted practice in the 4th century.

Why the importance and significance of this celebration?

The Church answers this question by stating, “Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again.”  In other words, without the Ascension the work of salvation is incomplete.  Jesus Christ Ascended into heaven in order to complete the work of salvation and provide evidence of the promise that we, whom God calls his children, can live in hope that we too will be with him forever.  The Ascension of our Lord is the completion of his salvific work.

However, the work of salvation of the world is not done.  We read very clearly today Christ’s instructions, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”  The work of salvation was completed in Christ’s Ascension, but our work, as followers of Christ, is not.

Earlier this week, as I pondered the list of incomplete projects around my home, I stumbled across the thought, “what other projects in my life are incomplete?”  What other things, and even more so important, what relationships in my life are in a state of disrepair?”  Are there relationships that have worn thin by disagreement?  Have I been ignoring people, putting them on the “get to when I get to it” list?  Are their relationships in my life that need updating, attention, and care?

Now, for the real risky part of my homily… What about you?  Are there relationships in your life that have been damaged, wounded, or neglected?  What names are on your “I will get to it when I get to it” list?  Can you recall the faces of individuals whom you have pushed aside or brushed away due to differing opinions, or political positions, or disagreements?

My brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord.  The completion of the work of salvation and the joy of the promise that we too shall one day be with Christ in heaven.  However, let us not doubt, not even for one second, that our work here on this earth is complete.

There is a beautiful invitation to prayer in our Catholic liturgy that is traditionally said at the vigil of one who is deceased.  It reads, “My brothers and sisters, we believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death.”  The intent of this invitation is to remind us that our responsibility and our compassion for our sisters and brothers in Christ, and in fact all of those whom we call friends, continues beyond the grave.

Today our challenge is to take stock of our relationships… not just the things… in our life and, through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the example of Christ Jesus, begin to mend, attend, and repair those relationships to fully engage in the work to which Christ has commanded, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel.”  For the Gospel is not about rules, and rites, and tradition.  The Gospel is about relationship.  God’s desire to be in a relationship with us… his creation.

In order to be in right relationship with God, and in order to fulfill Christ’s command to share the Gospel, we must strive to be in right relationship with one another.

My prayer today… for myself and for each and everyone of you is… to tend to your home… your spiritual home and make right the relationships that are broken.

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