Monday, May 13, 2013

Sunday After Ascension Homily

Scripture readings for this homily can be found here.

This past Thursday we celebrated the Ascension of Our Lord following 40 days of Paschal celebrations. 40 glorious days of Easter joy declaring Christ is risen from the dead! However...the Ascension is a day that often carries many mixed emotions for the Christian who has journeyed from Lent, to the place of crucifixion, finally arriving at the moment of inexplicable radiant resurrection. Now the day has come and gone when Christ is suddenly taken from us, or is it that he chooses to leave us, perhaps it is that he must leave us, or is even the question to difficult to construct - let alone the answer? 

Regardless, we know we have journeyed with a man in his darkest moments, to his brightest, and now he suddenly has faded off into the clouds while we stand scratching our heads in bewilderment. If this puzzles us, as a people of faith, imagine how much more it puzzles those outside the faith. We profess a God who destroyed death by death and yet he still seems to many to be no more present than those who have reposed in previous generations. 

The reality, however is that Christ ascended, so that he might expand and grow and become known in a multitude of bodies rather than a single human being. If people around us no longer see Christ the guilt lays no further than our own lack of love and action.

The ascension allows for Christ to no longer be limited to only the body given to him by the Theotokos, Our Lady, but now by the power of the Holy Spirit he can truly become known in the hearts, eyes, words and actions of all people-kind. As believers this is our calling and mandate from Christ, to become Him to the world around us. He left so that all generations would have this blessed possibility and divine calling. 

We must ask ourselves: do we grasp the Christ potential laid before us, by means of the death, resurrection, & ascension, or do we simply stand staring into the sky bewildered? Does Christ still walk this earth or have we allowed him to fade away? Is the man who once dared to eat with the despised, touch the sick, and speak with prostitutes still walking the earth by means of our feet or have we bound God’s feet by our lack of service? 

Christ promised that he would be with us even unto the end of the ages and this is made manifest in the Holy Eucharist but also in the body and blood of those believers which surround us, encouraging us and being there for us in difficult times. Are we there as the body of Christ for others, making Him always present? 

The lectionary readings today continue to reveal to us what a people of faith should be like in the midst of an ascended Lord. The passages are no coincidence but chosen specifically to call us into a new state of being now that Our Lord has asked us to become his literal hands & feet. 

Our Epistle reading from Acts is a beautiful story of the power experienced by those who have the indwelling of Christ in their lives and words. We find Paul & Silas granting mental heath and spiritual freedom to an abused woman resulting in her physical freedom. This too is our calling: to free from the power of greedy men and lust of money the abused and mistreated, the poor and destitute. To love with an inclusive love which is often not understood by the world around us.

However, just as Christ was hated and despised for bringing healing and freedom, so were Paul & Silas. They are thrown into prison under false allegations and bound in chains. We should expect no less as messengers of radical love and healing. Frankly, we should begin to worry if our ministry does’t upset others every now and then. The Epistle continues to tell us that Paul and Silas choose to pray and praise God even while bound and despised resulting in their miraculous freeing. As people of the ascended Lord we must constantly choose to walk in peace and love with those around us never seeking to ridicule others who misunderstand our actions. Paul & Silas had every right to be miserable, to curse the prison guards, to hate God for allowing their circumstances to exist but rather they chose to continue to love by means of their prayer and praise. 

We know the end result of their actions: the jailor and his entire household are brought into the love and peace of God as unknown to them before. If we choose to truly walk as Christ, to truly believe that we, in light of the ascension, have become Christ in this world then these moments of miraculous love will follow us too. Our simplest action can literally change the course of someone’s entire life. A few softly spoken words can be the difference between life or death for one sitting next to us. Christ healed with his touch- does our touch we walk in the same power of love? 

Our Gospel reading reminds us of Christ’s own prayer that we would become one with Him and the Father. He says, “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me.” 

These words reveal to us that God, the source of all love, the one who is love, was fully in Christ and in return Christ is fully in us. The world did not fully understand the truth of God’s love until Christ came and in return those around us will not fully understand God’s love unless we are Christ to them. It is a heavy calling, a heavy mission.

The message of Christ is one of love and community, one of unity and openness. This too is to be our message to all those around us. However, we must first make a decision to say: YES to the calling. Just as Our Lady was given a choice by the Holy Spirit to accepts God’s mission, we too are given a choice. Will we become the body of Christ? Will the ascended Lord continue to walk among people-kind or will he simply drift off into the clouds? By the grace, love and strength of God may we each choose to fulfill our divine mission. 

The Orthodox Ascension Konotakion
O Christ our God, upon fulfilling Your dispensation for our sake, You ascended in Glory, uniting the earthly with the heavenly. You were never separate but remained inseparable, and cried out to those who love You, "I am with you and no one is against you."

1 comment:

  1. Just beautiful. Spoke to me on so many levels.