Homily – Ascension Sunday

There is a story told about a priest who was talking about heaven in his homily, he said: “We bring nothing with us when we die. There is no money in heaven! People in heaven have no money!”

The whole congregation was quiet, until a little girl whispered to her mother loud enough that everyone could hear: “Mama, mama, we’re in heaven already!”

On a different level, it is like this story of space travellers (cosmonauts) who made a journey into space some years ago.  Having arrived after a successful flight to outer space, they sarcastically said: “We’ve gone up to heaven, but we did not find God there.” Once again, we are trying to understand heaven and searching for God in human terms and language.

Today we are celebrating the Feast of Jesus’ Ascension. What is the real meaning of the Lord’s Ascension? If we are going to ask all Catholics, the answer would be: ‘Ascension is the act of Jesus Christ moving upward into heaven.’

People think about Ascension on the level of physical and material or geographical. Is that all we know about Ascension?  Nothing more, nothing less?

Jesus’ Ascension means not so much ‘space travel’ as implied by the cosmonauts, but that Christ entered a new dimension, an unseen but definitive presence which is the spiritual or immaterial. This signifies His exaltation as universal sovereign Lord of heaven after a fruitful life on earth.

According to the Church’s understanding, Ascension is: ‘Jesus ended His bodily presence on earth.’ This happened 40 days after his resurrection.  Another meaning is: ‘The Lord has left and gone up into heaven, yet remains with us.’  This means that our life has to end, just like that of the physical body of Christ who died.  We too must die.  And if Christ had ascended into heaven, we too must be there.

This first true meaning of Ascension is the invitation of hope, hope in the future, hope in God and heavenly kingdom.  That is our lives at this moment, carried out with meaning and seeking for the life to come.  Ascension gives us the foretaste of heaven that people of faith are invited to turn their eyes towards the joyful and happiness of the next life with God in heaven.

Another meaning of Ascension, which I like most, is that Ascension is to go back to the source of who is the Father.  Jesus returned to God the Father, the Source of his being.  It sounds a very abstract or philosophical thought, but it makes sense when we see Ascension as the encouragement to return to God who is beginning.

This second meaning of Ascension encourages us with the message of turning to God or to the Church whenever we feel that we are ready.  Many of us have removed ourselves from the Church for so many legitimate reasons: we do not like the Church’s teachings, we do not feel like a good community, there are not many people or even we do not like the priests.  Fair enough!

That is why the celebration of our Lord’s Ascension allows us to look back and search for the real meaning of our faith.  Ascension gives us a new goal to work on.  Ascension shares with us a hopeful future.  Ascension invites us to give each other a new chance: to the church a new chance, to our family member a new chance or even to ourselves a new beginning.

Today, let’s celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, that we can share this hope of the future for the people around us, that through the message of Ascension, we can give one another a new beginning even though, that new beginning can be tough.  With with blessings from God we can make a new start.

By Fr Trac Nguyen



Faith Reflections Homily


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