Eternity Over Time

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily June 2, 2019

“This feast of the Ascension of the Lord is certainly one that is personal for us since this is our patronal feast and as people of the Ascension we are called to reflect upon the real meaning of this feast as one of completion, finality, and hope.  You know the feast of the ascension really celebrates the fulfillment of the whole mystery of Christ’s incarnation. Just a few months ago we celebrated Christmas, the fact of the word become flesh in Christ Jesus as that humble babe of Bethlehem, but the whole purpose of the incarnation of God becoming flesh in that humble child was in order that we might know the gift of eternal salvation.  We reflected upon not just the infancy, but more importantly the public ministry of Jesus and how through his death and resurrection the paschal mystery he’s brought about the redemption, the forgiveness of our sins and a whole new life of grace and now we come to this completion time where Jesus physically leaves this earth. He’s ascended. He’s taken up into the fullness of the glory of the right hand of the father.  It is the summation, the completion of his life, for Christ entered into our humanity so that we might enter into his divinity, that we are called to be adopted sons and daughters of God through our identification with Christ Jesus. This is a feast in which we celebrate the fact that in a sense, all of us are already in Heaven because of our union with Christ. One of the best and greatest images for me for the ascension is one that you younger folks will not remember that well, but some of us older ones will and that was when the first man walked on the moon.  There was that lunar module that landed on the moon and that dramatic moment when there was that step down from the module onto the moon and really it was a transfiguring moment for people who were able to watch that on television. It was one of those dramatic moments and the words of that astronaut, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ Because all of us felt that somehow we were on the moon. Humanity was there therefore we were all there. Well as we celebrate this ascension of Jesus into Heaven, we celebrate the fact that Jesus truly has taken us into Heaven as well that there is that promise there already of humanity is in God’s glory.  Humanity is truly sharing in the joy of Heaven and we ourselves already are beginning to share in that life. No, we have a long way to go before we enjoy it fully, but we know that this is our destiny that this is our purpose is that ultimately it is that we will share in God’s life ternally and that’s one of the things that we keep in mind as we live each day, the dignity that we have, but also that call that we have to eternal joy, to eternal union with Christ in the presence in the Father and the Spirit as well, but in the meantime there’s a challenge for us. We have this beautiful stained glass of the Ascension right behind me and that particular piece came from the Church of the Annunciation in Kansas City, MO and certainly it is a masterful work of art, but it reminds us there of Jesus ascending into Heaven and it’s interesting that the apostles and Mary for the most part are looking up, following with their eyes Jesus ascending into Heaven and then we have those words in the first reading today where it says that two Angels came and they said, ‘Why are you looking up to Heaven?  He’s going to come back, don’t worry about that, but you go do your job.’ That’s basically what the angels were saying and for all of us we have that job of being witnesses of being witnesses to the love of Christ, to the love of God manifested in Jesus in the word become flesh in the act of salvation, his love for us in dying and rising that we are called to be witnesses to that, but we don’t do it just on our own power for just like the early disciples they were told to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and to be with them. Well we have received that gift of the Spirit and so we are challenged to truly be people of the Holy Spirit. We look up to Heaven, but we also have our feet on the ground. We are called to live each day with an awareness of our dignity and the ultimate call of our lives, but we are aware that we are called to witness by our daily lives to be witnesses of hope to others. This feast of the Ascension is a great feast of hope because it helps us to realize that no matter what we may experience in this life whatever disappointments or challenges that we may have, even the reality of illness and death will never overcome us, but rather it is life over death, it is eternity over time, it is that call to the wondrous vocation, the goal that each of us has within our life to share in the life of the ascended Christ Jesus.  How blessed we are for we are a people who truly know the love of God for we know the purpose and the meaning, the direction of our lives. We are but challenged to follow it.”