Today we celebrate the second of the three solemnities of the Easter season, the Ascension of the Lord. The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles tell us that the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples over a period of about forty days before ascending into heaven in their sight. The ascension of Jesus, however, did not mark his departure from this world, but his presence in a new way. As Saint Paul states in the first option for today’s Second Reading: “[God the Father] put all things beneath [Christ’s] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”
Far from abandoning us, Christ’s ascension into glory has made it possible for him to dwell in us, who are his body, the living stones who are the Church. Christ’s presence is not confined to the dimensions of an individual human body, but “fills all things in every way.” Pope Saint Leo the Great said, “Our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments.” He said furthermore:
Even the blessed apostles, though they had been strengthened by so many miracles and instructed by so much teaching, took fright at the cruel suffering of the Lord’s passion and could not accept his resurrection without hesitation. Yet they made such progress through his ascension that they now found joy in what had terrified them before. They were able to fix their minds on Christ’s divinity as he sat at the right hand of his Father, since what was presented to their bodily eyes no longer hindered them from turning all their attention to the realization that he had not left his Father when he came down to earth, nor had he abandoned his disciples when he ascended into heaven.
In the Communicantes of Eucharistic Prayer I for the Ascension, we hear that Christ “placed at the right hand of [the Father’s] glory our weak human nature, which he had united to himself.” By his incarnation he became one of us, taking upon himself our frail human nature, even to the point of suffering, death and burial. By his resurrection he won the victory over death for humanity. He ascended into glory with his humanity intact and literally has taken human nature to new heights. Today’s feast is another movement in God’s outreach to us in Christ, drawing us to his bosom in the embrace of sheer love.
Our parishes’ fiscal year ends on June 30. Pledges to the Diocesan Annual Appeal must be received by that date to be credited for this year. Please honor your pledges to the Appeal and continue your support of our parishes. St. Peter Parish has reached 87.94% of its target for this year with $2,318 to go. St. Charles Parish has reached 84.67% of its target with $10,226 to go. Both parishes are inching toward their goals, but the majority of households have not given to the Appeal. These targets could easily be reached if everyone would give something. This is a fundamental duty of parish membership. Please help us meet our financial obligations.
I welcome new readers, communion ministers, ushers and servers from both parishes. Training sessions for all new liturgical ministers will be provided. Just drop me a note by email or in the collection basket or leave a voicemail message, if you are willing to serve in any of these ministries. I especially encourage those confirmed the last two years to volunteer. The grace of Confirmation is given to help you be active members of the Church and liturgical ministry is one expression of that.
Please pray the rosary this week for the safety of children on summer vacation and for families who are traveling. Pray for people who are unemployed, that they may find jobs. Pray for the safety of those who are serving in the armed forces and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.