Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why I love the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

One of the greatest challenges that any preacher faces is to make that connection between the celebrations of the Liturgy with the very lives of the people who gather around the church sanctuary in the act of liturgical worship.  He leads the people in the act of prayer and worship, and in the breaking of the Word, leads them to see the great hope that lies before them as they also at the same time lead their daily, seemingly mundane and routine lives.  Right worship is never two things – an act of entertainment that gives some sort of ‘escape’ like going to a million-dollar production concert where we lose ourselves for a couple of hours, nor an escapism from our lives of daily chores, work and family living.

The Ascension of the Lord which we celebrate as Church today can give us one of those images where we physically focus on the actual moving or going up of the body of Christ, standing atop a hill in Palestine some slightly more than 2000 years ago, and just being lifted off into the clouds and going further and further up.  That is the scriptural way of saying that something beyond the physical has happened.  It is a ‘meta’physical way of being that Christ has now entered into.  He is no longer bound by space and time, and goes beyond.  Not a physical beyond – a spiritual beyond where he is now so fully joined with the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

“Well this is good for him”, you may say.  Yes it is, but this is also supremely good for us.  You see, we do not, through our baptism, ever exist only for ourselves.  We exist in Christ now.  It means necessarily that what is good for Christ is also good for us.  We have the great hope that we too will enter into this same Divine dimension of being that goes beyond space, and beyond time, to live in the life of God himself so fully. 

This also means that Christ has given us all a great commission by his leaving.  And I think this has not been emphasized too much in the liturgical preaching of this Solemnity, and it is a pity.  Have you ever seen leaders who are just so reluctant to leave their seats and positions of power just because of insecurity and fears that someone else would take their place?  And don’t just look at political leaders because they are just too numerous to name.  We see them all around us – leaders of companies, those “A” stars in Hollywood, university professors, and yes, even the doyens of large (or small) families who demand the servitude of their younger family members in some demanding and superior, know-it-all way.  What this does to the younger generation is that it often handicaps them from growing and stretching themselves in their own leadership skills that are left sadly undeveloped and inhibited and stunted. 

But good and mature leaders do the opposite.  They not only groom and spot talent that is developing, but also help them to develop.  Beyond good and mature leaders, excellent leaders actually make way (physically) for the space for their successors to take their place and to continue the work that they did in ways that perhaps they did not, our could not in their time and in their way. 

One dimension of the celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is this very dimension of Church.  The Lord Jesus left that precious space for us to take over, so that so many other ways of being Christ can be opened up for the world awaiting for his presence.  If he had still been here, do you think that there would be the dynamic ways that people like the Father of the Church, the wonderful Popes who shaped our ways of thinking and worshipping, and brave and courageous saints who gave their very lives for the faith would have existed?  Christ’s leaving us paved the way for great creativity and thinking that gives us the dynamism to lead our present daily Christian lives in ways that are open to us.  We would be greatly stunted in our Christian and Human living if Christ had not left the 'world' to us.  Of course, the great courage that he gave us culminated when he gave us his very Spirit on Pentecost which we will celebrate a little later on.

It also means that even the smallest and unseen ways of Christian living can become means whereby I can participate in the very life of Christ because he gives me the hope that this life has a ‘beyond’ that I can always have hope in.  It makes my lying in a hospital bed recovering now much better from my chemo reactions something which is not meaningless, but can actually empower others with hope as I write something about it in this blog!  Well, some priests have the privilege of a stone or wooded ambo to preach from.  Me?  Mine is a hospital bed, confined in a concrete room.  But there is great hope beyond.  That is what Christ’s Ascension gives to me today.  That is why I love this Solemnity.

Have a blessed and most holy celebration of your very own hope of being Christian in a ascended way today!  God love you!


  1. Every shared spiritual reflection uplifts those around....thank you Father for all sharings. God bless. Always in prayers, Mat. (OLSS)

  2. Dear Fr. Luke, God bless and love you! Shalom, helena

  3. Thanks for sharing Father. God bless & get well soon.

  4. Thank you for lifting us up today Father. Blessings and love always.
    Anne-Marie and Pat

  5. Dear Father Luke

    Am glad to see your post. Your sharing despite your own 'sufferings' have uplifted many. God bless you and He love you too! Keeping you in prayers.


  6. Dear Fr Luke

    Thank you, and yes.. glad to read your uplifting post. As with all readers here and many more, you're always in my prayers. Jesus loves you!

    The love of God be with you always.

  7. Dear Fr Luke,thank you for the blessing,truly it's being fulfilled! Hope, you have given us.The Lord is with you.
    See you father.God Bless.

  8. Dear Fr Luke,

    Hearing you from the hospital bed, with all the chemo, yet full of the true essence of Christian Hope, I almost can hear a victim of Divine Love. I daresay you have been given more than many others in the priesthood. You have been given a cross that is so big and yet so lovely, and it seems to me that our Good Lord is giving you a very large portion of grace; to share in His sufferings in a most excellent manner, as close to His own as the Saints would have desired. I continue to pray for you as I continue to pray for others. If yours are the sufferings so close to that which Our Lord bore, I imagine your joy would be greater still, when the period of travail is over. I will not ask of you to offer your sufferings for my benefits. But may I ask of you to offer the most endearing of gifts the Lord has given you in this cross, for the benefits of those hearts furthest from God, and for the endurance of the people of God in the true faith.

    -Clare Therese

  9. Dearest Fr. Luke,

    saw your updated blog and am glad to know you are better. Likewise for me and I am sure, for many others, the Feast of Ascension is also a time of great hope and affirmation. Out the 3 Gospels' closing with Jesus' ascension, my favourite account will be of Matthew's.

    After His final request of great commissioning to make disciples of all the world - He followed by His most tender of promise - "And lo, I am with you always, yes, to the ends of time." - I am sure this promise must also be of great consolation to the apostles in the ten days prior to Pentecost.

    For me too, whatever life throws at me, when I am clueless of God's intention and feeling desolated, before doubt can set in, I seek much comfort and consolation from this tender promise... and hope sets in. ... slowly slowly till I am brave to say out loud in my prayer... Come what may.

    Thank You Fr. Luke,

    God is with you always. ;)