Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord – B

17 May 2015

Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič

Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mk 16:15-20

Upon completing his mission on earth, 40 days after his resurrection, our Lord Jesus ascended to heaven to take his rightful place beside the throne of God. The apostles were certainly saddened by the Lord’s departure while they gazed towards the sky, but in leaving his followers he did not abandon them. As St. Augustine once wrote: “In coming down to earth, our Lord Jesus never left heaven, and in going back to heaven, he never fully left earth”. This confirms our belief that Jesus is not an historical figure of the past, a ‘super hero’ who once walked the earth, an immortal name and influence, but rather he is our Lord and God, who is alive and very much active. He is not the one who was but the one who is!

One of the great mysteries of the Church is that the Lord Jesus shall forever remain the Head of the Church he established on earth. He is our living God who promised to remain present within his Church till the end of time. It is only fitting then, that the Church, that is, all the faithful follow and imitate him as much as possible. This is our task and challenge, for there the two things that must characterize any true Church are loyalty to Christ and love towards mankind.

The true Christian loves Christ and loves his brothers and sisters.  More than that, he knows that he cannot show his love to Christ in any other way than by showing his love to his fellow men. The true Church lives therefore by a double love, love for Christ and love for humankind.

In Mark’s gospel passage, the task of the community of believers is presented in very clear terms. Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature”. It is the duty of the Church and of every Christian to proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus in word and example always and everywhere. Our Christian duty is to be heralds of Jesus in the world, even though at times we may find it hard to keep up the faith, we are nevertheless called to help others believe as well.

Jesus wished to bring health to the body and to the soul. Today possibly more than ever, Christians are called to drive out the demons, that are trying to control people’s minds and hearts with the selfish, materialistic ideologies and goals of the modern world, such as the search for wealth, power and pleasure at the expense of others, that leave one empty within and estranged from our neighbour.

Finally, the individual followers of Christ and his Church as a community, are never left alone to do the Lord’s work. Christ continues even today to work with his Church, within it and through it, thereby confirming his presence in it and in us. The Lord promised to remain with his Church until the end of time and we are thereby reassured through faith in him, that we are never truly alone in our task.

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