Ascension [C] 2008

Fr. Charles Irvin

Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 29:15-20
 
We have all heard the expression “Life has gone full circle.” Many times we hear it when someone has died. His or her life, we say, has gone “full circle”.
 
If you saw Disney’s The Lion King you heard Elton John sing:
 
“From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
 
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life
 
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life”
 
In our birth, God brings us into our own first day in the circle of life. A similar circle is true of Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate the fulfillment of His human circle of life here among us.
 
In his gospel, St. John tells us, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him [John 3:17] and so we might ask: What is the nature of that salvation? The ultimate answer is that God our Father sent us His only-begotten Son to bring us back to Him. Now, because of Jesus Christ, God the Son made human, our destiny is to return back to our Father in heaven. Christ Jesus, having been born among us, gathers us into Himself in order to take us back to our Father. The Ascension of Christ into heaven completes the circle, the circle into which we were baptized in order to have Christ’s life with in us, His life back home with His Father and now our Father.
 
There are several key points to hold in our minds, all of which have to do with the purpose and meaning of our lives from God’s point of view. One is that in taking on our humanity, God the Son did not lose His divinity, and in returning back to His Father Christ did not lose His humanity. Divinity and humanity are now intertwined in the circle of Christ’s coming to us and returning to our Father, His and ours together. All of that is ours because of Christ’s Ascension.
 
Another key point is that Christ’s Ascension into heaven was not a departure from us; it was rather the inauguration of His new presence among us, His presence to us in His Mystical Body, the Church, and in His sacraments. He is with us in Baptism, in Confirmation, in the Holy Eucharist, and in all of the great seven sacraments of the Church. They join us into His life.
 
A third point is that Christ’s nativity, His passion, death, and resurrection, His ascension, and Pentecost are all interconnected. They are all a part of His circle of life in our humanity, in our world. They are all His circle of life into which He integrates us in order to bring us back to our Father in heaven. God created us to belong to Him and even though we have separated ourselves from God through our sins, God will not allow sin to keep us separated from Him. God comes to us in His Spirit-filled, resurrected Christ because He loves us and wants us to belong to Him.
 
Finally, the Ascension of Christ brings us full spiritualization in the power of the risen Christ. God gives us the power the be present to Him freed from the limitations of our humanity, freed from the limitations of space and time, freed from the limitations of our sins.
 
There is, in the final analysis, only one thing that can keep us from that purpose and destiny… our choices. Our apathy, our indifference, our lack of attention to Christ is what separates us from God, God who comes to us and offers Himself to us in His Son made flesh for our salvation.
 
Pentecost is upon us. The power of the Holy Spirit is present to us and the big question that faces you and me is: Will we open ourselves up to Him? Will we open our hearts to Him? Will we accept His love for us on His terms, or will we go our own ways?
 
All of this is more than our simple good wishes, more than just our good intentions. All of this depends on our choices… what we will think, and day, and do. God offers, we respond.
 
What will be my response? What will be your response?
 
 “It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life.”
 
 
 

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”