Friday, May 15, 2015

Homily for Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Homily for the Solemnity
of the Ascension of the Lord
May 14, 2015
Mark 16: 15-20
Eph 4: 1-13
Christian Brothers, Iona College, N.R.
Wartburg Home, Mt. Vernon

“Jesus said to his disciples:  ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature'” (Mark 16: 15).

Benvenuto da Garofalo (1481?-1559)
At the end of Mark’s gospel, as at the end of Matthew’s and the beginning Luke’s Acts (our 1st reading), Jesus gives his disciples the Great Commission.  That commission is to continue his own mission of proclaiming the Good News—what he announced in the 1st words of his ministry (Mark 1:14-15).  That commission is given “to his disciples,” not exclusively to the 11 (Matthias not yet having been chosen to fill out the apostolic college to its full number of 12).  So this commission is given to all the disciples, to the whole Church, and not only to the Church’s leaders.

Jesus continues ty commissioning them to baptize believers into divine fellowship and to perform signs that they are truly doing God’s work.  Mark refers to some spectacular signs of God’s assistance in the disciples’ ministry (16:17-18).  Most of Jesus’ disciples in fact don’t perform these sorts of signs.  Some sects go out of their way to work at them, e.g., handling dangerous snakes (but none, to my knowledge, deliberately drinks poison), and some charismatic individuals are given gifts of healing and exorcism, as we know.

Paul, on the other hand, refers to more ordinary indications of the presence of God’s Spirit:  humility, gentleness, patience, mutual forbearance, unity of spirit (Eph 4:1-3).  Doing this, brothers/sisters, in the long run may be more effective preaching and teaching than anything else.  Only this can truly evidence that Christ, tho not visibly present, is alive and active and working with us everywhere; these are the signs that confirm the Word (Mark 16:20).

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