Fr. Bart's Homily for Sunday, May 24

Feast of the Ascension

Hopefully, you have seen the movie Forrest Gump. There is a scene in the movie where Forrest is feeling rejected by the people he loves and he gets this urge to start running. He begins to run and continues running until he reaches the ocean and then turns around and runs the other way! He keeps crossing the country, running. He makes national news, even the cover of the magazine, Runner’s World. When he is asked why he is running – does he have a cause? –  he simply answers, “I am just running.” 

There is a humorous and meaningful event when he decides to stop running. He simply stops on his journey in the middle of a desert. He has a handful of devoted followers who think he has some special knowledge to give them. When he stops running, long haired and long bearded, this handful of sweaty joggers shush each other and wait for him to say something profound. “I’m kinda tired,” he says. "I think I’ll go home now.” He walks through the group and one of them yells after him, “Well, what are we supposed to do?!”

All people are looking for answers to life’s deepest questions. These people who were mindlessly following Gump personify this thirst for meaning. By the fact that their hero abandons them without any explanation, this story illustrates the inability of things of the world, especially money, fame, politics, or pleasure to provide that meaning. We get tired of them and they can let us down. As Christians, we realize that only Jesus Christ with his infinite goodness, power, and wisdom is the Way, the Truth, and the Life we are searching for.  

Today we do something strange. We celebrate our Savior’s departure from earth.

Ascension of the LordPicture the scene: Jesus’ disciples and apostles are gathered around him on the mountaintop to which he has called them. He mysteriously ascends back into heaven, back to his Father’s side. Back to where he came from at the moment of the incarnation. We celebrate that today. Maybe we should mourn the fact that he is no longer among us. He seems like he has abandoned us, but he has not!

In the Preface that starts the Eucharistic Prayer of today’s Mass, the Church tells us why:

“Christ.....has passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us but to be our hope.”

“Christ is the beginning, the head of the Church; where He has gone, we hope to follow.”

If Jesus had not ascended into heaven – body and soul, humanity and divinity – we would not be able to hope for heaven ourselves. The Ascension is the direct source of our hope. It means that we are never alone. The Lord is everywhere, especially in our midst.

Tags: Fr. Bart Homily, Feast of the Ascension

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