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 40 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. 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.” As the Lord said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
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 weak 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, for “by this wondrous union we, too, are made eternal.” (Christmas Preface III) 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.
This great season of grace continues this week as 13 second graders from St. Peter Parish receive their First Holy Communion during the 9:00 Mass this Sunday. The Church is enriched and renewed by the grace of the sacraments effective in the lives of her members.
Today is Mother’s Day. President Woodrow Wilson made this a national holiday in 1914. Mother’s Day has its origins in Greek springtime pagan celebrations in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods. It spread into Europe and with Christianity became a celebration in honor of “Mother Church,” who gives us new life through baptism and protects us from harm through the grace of the sacraments. This eventually combined with an English observance of “Mothering Sunday,” when servants were given the day off to spend with their mothers, and it became a day in honor of natural mothers as well. So the life-giving and nurturing characteristics of motherhood and of the Church complement one another and are appropriately observed during May, the month of Our Lady, Mother of the Church and Queen of Families.
Pray the rosary this week for mothers, living and deceased. Pray for Holy Mother Church, for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and for those from our parishes who have recently received their first communion or confirmation. Pray also for good weather for the spring planting and growing season. As always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.