Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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Ascension of the Lord
May 4, 2008 Year: A
Acts 1:1-11; Eph. 1:17-23; Mt. 28:16-20

He was lifted up

First Reading...
"In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After His suffering he presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the Kingdom of God.

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. This, he said, is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?' He replied, 'It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'

When He had said this, as they were watching, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'" [Acts 1:1-11]

Second Reading...
"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance among the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power.

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." [Ephes. 1:17-23]

Gospel Reading...
"The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.

And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'" [Mt. 28:16-20]

Helpful Anecdote:

"The sea was much better," the traveler complained. "Whenever I got tired it at least had its currents to push me forward on my journey but you," he looked at the vast desert surrounding him, "you are of no help."

He went down on his knees, dead tired. When his breaths restored back to normalcy, a while later, he heard the desert's voice.

"I agree. I am of no help like the sea and thus I often depress people. But do you really think people will remember you for crossing the sea? Never! For the sea doesn't allow you to leave any mark. I, on the contrary, do. Thus, if you cross me, I swear, you will in turn immortalize yourself with the imprints you leave over me!"

The traveler got the essence and got up to walk on. "It's always about the imprints," his heart echoed.

"He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight." [Acts 1:9]

Jesus left lasting imprints on the lives of the Apostles. That is why they were all filled with enthusiasm for the message of Christ. He made an impression, not like other people, his impression made through his death and resurrection. His impression is a tough reality, but always helpful to all those who were with him and want to be with him.

We always find difficult to find God’s traces. The best way to describe His existence is to say that God was "present." This nature of God echoes the Words of Yahweh and Jesus who both claimed to be, "I am." [Ex. 3:14; Jn. 8:58, 18:5; Rev. 1:8, 22:13] "I am" means "I am present; I am here!" In the case of God the Father, it can also mean, "While you may not see Me, I am here. I am present."

Now a days it is so difficult to convince people of God’s presence, and it is so essential to their life yet the difficulty remains a stark reality.

A girl approached me and said, father, please pray that I may not lose my faith. I said, “Dear, just pray and you will not lose it”. She said to me, “father, I am in great trouble. My boy friend whom I loved has left me, and I feel it is not worth living in this world”. I told her that she might get a better boy. What else could I say? “Is it true father?” “Yes,” I said, “just pray and keep a watch and you will see God will help you.” It happened in a month. She was all happy, because she got another one, much better than the previous one.

Faith works, but it makes us wait and always takes us through a tough path.

The Gospel of John tells us, "As the Father has life in Himself, He has granted the Son (the Word) to have life in Himself." (Jn. 5:26)

"In Jesus (Him) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." [Col. 1:19,2:9] Jesus said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his work. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me..." [Jn. 14:9- 11]

St. Paul affirmed our capability of knowing the nature of God when he stated, "Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made. So they are without excuse." [Rom. 1:20]

When we celebrate Ascension of our Blessed Lord into heaven, we need to look up, means we need to look for the things to come. This expectation should keep us always alive. Often in this modern world people always tend to look for the material things, that they need immediately. There is a strong tendency to get everything we need and we want them immediately. Not necessarily this should be our approach.

I was watching a programme on 27th April, conducted by Burkha Datt, in NDTV by name “affluence mania”. Leading industrialists and CEO’s had been participating in this programme. They were responding to questions put by the viewers, who were convinced that they need to enjoy life, without much reference to their parents and grand parents. They were of the opinion that life is short and good and we need to make best of it with regard to spending the money one has earned. Then, what about the moral values? Of course some of them insisted that they were at terrible at stake.

I am just reading today’s news paper (29/4/2004 – DNA) report of one Josef Fritzl, Austrian, 70 years old, who had 7 children from his own daughter Elizabeth. The neighbours of this man are hanging their heads in total shame. He had imprisoned his daughter in 1984, drugged her and kept her for almost 24 years in the basement of his home and molested her, abused her. What a shame and cruel reality of this modern world. She must have undergone the tortures of hell in the hands of her own father. This is what we say our morals are at stake when we do not see beyond the reality of the world.

Ascension is looking forward with hope of great joy. Let us celebrate it with due reverence to life, to the neighbour and to the world to come where we will have our rooms as he has gone before us to prepare one for us.

   Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 

 

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