St Francis Q&A

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ascension of the Lord - homily

One day Jesus walking through the streets of Jerusalem when he decided that he needed a new robe. After looking around for a while, he saw a sign for Finkelstein, the Tailor. He walked in and was fitted by Finkelstein for a new robe. A few days later, he came back to try it on and it was a perfect fit! Jesus asked how much he owed, and Finkelstein said, “Oh, no, no charge for the Son of God. But, Jesus, when you give your sermons, please mention that your new robe was made by Finkelstein the Tailor”. Jesus said, “sure”. So, Jesus did exactly that – he finished his sermons by mentioning that Finkelstein the Tailor had made his beautiful new robe.

Months later, Jesus was walking through the streets of Jerusalem again and saw a huge line outside the door of Finkelstein’s shop. He made his way through the crowd and found Finkelstein who said, “Jesus, look at what you’ve done for my business! This is wonderful. Would you consider a partnership?” Jesus said, “Certainly. Jesus and Finkelstein it is”. But, Finkelstein said, “Oh, no, no. Finkelstein and Jesus it is. After all, I am the craftsman”. The two of them went back and forth and had a spirited debate over the name of their shop. Finally, they came to an agreement and a sign went up a week later over the shop: LORD AND TAYLOR

Today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. As we celebrate Jesus’ ascension into heaven (into glory), I ask you to go back a little over forty days ago to Good Friday. Jesus is really down: fallen, wounded, hurt, stripped, ridiculed. It was a really dark time for him. He is carrying his cross, he is on the cross. It’s really bad. Who could ever have thought it would get better for him? Who would have seen this day coming after seeing Good Friday? Who could have thought that he would be glorified after being humbled so much? And, how could it happen?

After a little over forty days, Jesus’ situation got a whole lot better. He went from being greatly humbled to being glorified. This all came about through the power of God. God raised Jesus from death and then raised him to glory. Now, we might not be that surprised about this. After all, this is God’s son! And, we know the story well. But, the story of Christ is our story, too: through the power of God, we will ascend into glory.

Each of us will go through Good Friday at some point in our lives. We will be beaten down, fallen, wounded, hurt, stripped, ridiculed. We all have our dark times. We are all probably carrying a cross right now. It’s really tough and doesn’t seem that it will get any better. It doesn’t seem that we will get any better. And yet, if we bring ourselves and our situation to the power of God, we will rise. If we carry our cross in union with Christ, we will ascend into glory. It may not be forty days from now, but it will happen someday. God’s power – the “surpassing greatness of his power” as the second reading says – will raise us from this world to a world of glory.

A couple of examples of people who brought their situations to the power of God and have experienced an ascension. A married couple came to see me weeks ago. They were going through a tough stretch and were having problems. They sat down in my office pretty far apart from each other and barely looked at each other. It is interesting to see different couples come in to see me. Engaged couples preparing for marriage sit right next to each other, hold hands, and are all goo-goo for each other. Couples who have been married for some years and are going through some problems sit farther away from each other, rarely hold hands, and sometimes don’t even look at each other. That was the way this couple was acting. There was some loud talk – even yelling – and arguing. As we talked over the course of the hour, they came closer together and spoke more respectfully to each other. By the end, they were holding hands and actually left the rectory in a warm embrace. The wife sent me a letter a few weeks ago, saying that they were doing better. They had brought their very dark situation to the power of God and their marriage has now been raised up.

I am friends with a college student who is not from this parish. She has had a very tough freshman year. She has been extremely sad, especially lately. It got so bad that she said she didn’t see the point in going on, that she didn’t want to live anymore. I asked her to take this to Christ, specifically the Eucharist. She is familiar with Adoration, so I asked her to go to Adoration each day for 30 days. I promised her that Jesus would do something during those 30 days that will tell her that everything will be ok. She agreed, and has started her 30 days. A few days into it, she sent me a text that said she thinks this will get better and everything will be ok. Again, she brought her very dark situation to the power of God and is now being raised up.

We, too, will experience an ascension into glory if we take ourselves and our situations to the power of God. If we live in Christ – if we unite our suffering to his – we will experience what he experienced even though we can’t see how that could possibly happen. We, too, will be raised from this world into a world of glory.


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