The Ascension of the Lord

Today’s readings

For the early Apostles and disciples, today’s feast had to be a kind of “now what?” experience for them. Think about what they’ve been through. Their Lord had been betrayed by one of their friends, he had been through a farce of a trial and put to death in a horrible, ignoble way, they had been hiding in fear thinking they might be next, they had questioned what they were supposed to do without their Lord, and then they witness the Resurrection: Christ walks among them for a time, appearing to them and making himself known. They had seen redemption of a way of life they almost had abandoned, and now, on this feast of the Ascension, their Lord is leaving them again. In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, you can almost feel the amazement and desperation they are experiencing as they stare up into the heavens, incredulous that their Lord is gone, again.

So once again, God sends two messengers, two men in white garments, to set them straight. God had sent two men in dazzling garments to the women at the tomb on the day of the Resurrection as well. That time, the men reassured the women that the Lord had not been moved or stolen, but had risen from the dead. This time, the men appear to the Apostles, assuring them that the Lord would return in the same way as he had just departed from their sight. Both times, it was the same kind of messengers, with the same kind of hopeful message. Go forward, don’t worry, God is in control.

One of the great themes of Catholic theology is the idea of “already, and not yet.” Basically, that means that we disciples of Christ already have a share in the life of God and the promise of heaven, but we are not yet there. So we who believe in Jesus and live our faith every day have the hope of heaven before us, even if we are not home yet. And this hope isn’t just some “iffy” kind of thing: it’s not “I hope I’ll go to heaven one day.” No, it’s the promise that because of the salvation we have in Christ, we who are faithful will one day live and reign with him. This gives us hope in the midst of the sorrows that we experience in this world.

Another great theme of Catholic theology is that our God is transcendent, but also immanent. Transcendent means that our God is higher than the heavens, more lofty than our thoughts and dreams, beyond anything we can imagine. Whatever we say about God, like “God is love” or “God is good” – those things only begin to scratch the surface of who God is, because God is transcendent beyond anything our limited words can describe. But our God is also immanent. God is not some far off entity that has brought the world into existence and set the events of our lives in motion and then drops back to observe things from afar. No, our God is one who walks among us and knows our sorrow and our pain and celebrates our joy. Saint Augustine said that God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. Our God may indeed be mysterious and beyond us, but he is also the one we can reach out and touch. If that weren’t so, the Eucharist would be pretty meaningless.

As you can see, Catholic theology is generally speaking not exclusive. We are not either already sharing in the promise or not yet sharing in it, but we are “already and not yet.” Our God is not either transcendent or immanent, but both transcendent and immanent. These two great theological themes come to a kind of crossroads here on this feast of the Ascension.

Today, as Christ ascends into heaven, our share in the life of God and the promise of heaven is sealed. We have hope of eternal life because our Lord has gone before us to prepare a place for us. If he had not gone, we could never have shared in this life. So, although Jesus has left the apostles yet again, they can rejoice because they know that the promise is coming to fulfillment. We do not possess it yet, because we are not home yet, but we share in it already, because Christ is our promise.

Today, as Christ ascends into heaven, he once again, with the Father, is transcendent, because we, along with the Apostles, can no longer see him. But he remains immanent by his promise to be with us always. Again, I will quote St. Augustine who said of Christ that “He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.” St. Augustine teaches that the notion of time is that everything is present to God all at once. This explains how our celebration of the Eucharist in a few minutes brings us to Calvary at the moment when Jesus gave his life for us. And it explains how Jesus can ascend into heaven and yet remain among us. Time is a limitation for us humans, but not for God who created time in the first place.

All of this theology can be heady stuff, but what it boils down to is this: because Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, we now have the hope of heaven and of sharing in the very life of God. Even though we do not possess heaven yet, we know that it belongs to all who have faith in Christ and live that faith every day. And even though we do not see Jesus walking among us, he is still absolutely present among us and promises to be with us forever. The preface to the Eucharistic prayer which I will sing in a few minutes makes this very clear; it says:

Mediator between God and man,
judge of the world and Lord of hosts,
he ascended not to distance himself from our lowly state
but that we, his members, might be confident of following
where he, our Head and Founder, has gone before.

Jesus, having explained the Scriptures to his Apostles yet again, tells them “You are witnesses of these things.” And so they don’t have the luxury of just standing there, staring up into the sky for hours, dejected and crushed because the One who had been their hope had disappeared. No, as the Gospel tells us today, they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” They are witnesses, “clothed with power from on high,” and they must be filled with the hope and joy of the resurrection and ascension of the Lord.

We disciples are witnesses of these things too. We must witness to a world filled with violence and oppression and sadness that our God promises life without end for all those who believe in him. And we have that hope already, even though not yet. We must witness to a world languishing in the vapidity of relativism and individualism and New Age Oprah and Dr. Phil philosophy that it is Jesus Christ, the Lord of All, who is one with us in heaven, and present among us on earth, who fulfills our hopes and longings and will never leave us. We must be witnesses to all these things, living with great joy, continually praising God because Christ’s ascension is our exaltation. We too might hear those men in dazzling white garments speak God’s words of hope to us: go forward, don’t worry, God is in control.

The Ascension of Our Lord

Today’s readings

When I was on my pastoral internship in seminary, my supervisor and I talked about the fact that our Liturgy is very wordy. Think about it: all of the prayers and readings and songs – it’s a lot of words to take in in an hour or less, but we do it all the time. So once in a while, I like to reflect on what are the important words in the Mass. We have the words of institution of the Eucharist – those are extremely important. The proclamation of the Scriptures, especially the Gospel, well we can’t discount those either. And let’s not forget the Creed, the words of which were the cause of many arguments and literally fights over the centuries – those words are very carefully chosen.

But there is one word that I think is the most important, and I bet it’s going to surprise you. Because that word is “GO.” Go: we have to wait all the way to the end of Mass to hear the deacon or priest say it. “Go in peace.” Because it’s way at the end of Mass, I wonder if some people ever get to hear it. But whether we hear it or not, it’s kind of a throw-away, or it seems so. But it’s not. It’s not just a word of dismissal kind of like “you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.” It’s not just a word to get us out of the church and on to the next thing in life.

I think it’s a word of mission. We’re singing a hymn with “Go” in the title today, and I think it catches the spirit of what the word “Go” means in our Liturgy. And we hear that spirit in our Gospel today. Jesus tells the disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” That was what the disciples were to do. They weren’t supposed to just stand there staring up into the sky: they were supposed to GO and do the work of salvation until Jesus returned in glory.

Obviously, the command that was given to those first disciples is one that we are supposed to get as well. We are supposed to GO and preach the gospel in what we say and what we do. We are supposed to GO and baptize people by leading them to the faith in our witness. We are supposed to GO in peace, glorifying the Lord by our lives. We are supposed to GO and announce the gospel of the Lord. We do that by volunteering at the parish, looking in on a sick or elderly neighbor, living lives of integrity in the workplace. We do that by striving to be Christ-like to every person we meet.

So I hope that you’ll hear that word “GO” at the end of Mass differently now than perhaps you have before. I hope that you’ll hear it as a calling, as a challenge, and as a sacred duty. I hope you’ll take up the call to GO and make the world into the Kingdom of God among us.

The Ascension of the Lord

Today’s readings

Have you ever been at a loss for words?  Have you been in a situation that was so astounding that you were just … speechless?  Hopefully it was for something astoundingly wonderful, as for the apostles as their Lord ascended to heaven.  Can you imagine what was going through the disciples’ minds as they stood there watching the Ascension of the Lord?  Think about all that they’ve been through.  Three years following this Jesus whose words were compelling and whose miracles were amazing and whose way of life was uplifting.  But still, there was something about him that they just never seemed to get.  He said he was the Christ, the Anointed One, and so their strong cultural definition of the Messiah was something they projected onto Jesus, but time after time it just never fit.  Then he gets arrested, tried in a farce of a proceeding, put to death like a common criminal and buried for three days.  After that, he is no longer in the tomb, but has risen from the dead and appeared to them many times.  Now they’re gathered forty days later, and he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit.  They breathlessly ask the question that has always been on their minds, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  They still don’t get it.

And so Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit again, and ascends into the sky.  Can you imagine it?  It’s like a roller coaster of emotions for them.  Their heads had to be spinning, they had to be completely lost as to what to do now.  First he was dead and buried, then he came back, and now he’s gone again.  What on earth are they to do now?  Well, the two mysterious men dressed in white garments have all the advice they’re going to get: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?  This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”  It’s almost as if God is telling them, “You’ll see what comes next, just get on with it.”  And so they do, and they’ll get more help next week on Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit.  But until then, it’s enough for them and us to be a bit speechless.

We should be a little speechless too.  Honestly, I think these stories have become so engrained in our cultural experience of our religion that we just tend to treat them as nothing special.  But we should be speechless, because the Ascension, as well as the Resurrection, are game-changers for us.  Nothing like that ever happened before, and it made possible our eternity; the greatest gift we’ll ever have.  We should be astounded!

And then, like the apostles, we need to get on with it.  Because the Ascension has very specific meaning for our mission.  I think we get three directions in today’s feast.  First, Christ promises us that he will be with us always.  That’s what Jesus says to the disciples – and to us! – in the very last words of the very last verse of the very last chapter of Matthew’s Gospel: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  This is such an essential point of faith for us to get: Jesus our Lord will be with us every day, every moment, right up to the end of the age.

Jesus is present to us in three very specific ways.  First, he is present when we gather in his name. We reverence the presence of Christ in one another and can feel him present among us as we pray.  The whole reason we gather is because Christ is present when we gather.  Second,  we believe that Christ is present when we worship.  The Word of God, as it is proclaimed in the Church, is not just a nice story or an interesting precept for life.  We believe that God is present in the very proclaiming of the Word itself.  And the Sacraments themselves make Christ present when we celebrate them in worship, and we experience that most perfectly when we celebrate the Eucharist and receive the body and blood of our Lord in Communion.  Christ is present to us when we worship.  Finally, we believe that Christ is present when we serve.  Deep down, we know that the really great things we do are never the result of our own efforts alone.  So it’s not us feeding the hungry, it’s Christ.  It’s not us teaching a religious education class, it’s Christ.  It’s not us doing any of this, it’s always Christ, whose hands and feet and lips we have become by the virtue of our baptism.  Christ is present when we serve in his name.  Christ is eternally present to us in many beautiful ways.

The second application of the Ascension to our lives is that Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us.  He goes to heaven to pave the way, because we had lost the way, affected as we all are by original sin and by the sins of our life.  Since we did not know the way, he prepares it for us: opening the door, so to speak, and greeting us.  So we believers who have forged a relationship with our Lord can now look to him to see how to get to that heavenly reward.  All we have to do is follow, and we will find ourselves in that place God intended for us from the beginning.

And the third application of this feast in our lives is that the Christian Mission has been entrusted to our hands.  Christ has ascended into heaven, he has returned to the Father.  So, yes, on this feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we are rightly struck speechless, but now it’s time for us to take up the Cross, to preach the Word in our words and actions, and to witness to the joy of Christ’s presence among us.  If people are ever going to come to know Christ, if they are ever going to be challenged to grow in their faith, if they are ever going to know that there is something greater than themselves, they’re going to have to see that witness in other people, and it needs to be us.  We have to be transparent in our living so that people won’t be caught up on us, but will come through us to see Jesus, to see the Father, to experience the Spirit.  We are the ones commanded to “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…”  The mission is entrusted to us now.

The speechlessness has to be over.  The Psalmist tells us that God mounts his throne to shouts of joy.  We must be joyous in living our life as Christians, assured of God’s abiding presence until the end of time, looking forward to our heavenly reward, and living the mission for all to see.  We must no longer be speechless, but instead be a blare of trumpets for the Lord!

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Today’s readings

Yesterday, on the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension, Jesus promised to be with us until the end of time.  In these days after the Ascension, the Liturgy calls us to rely on Jesus’ presence among us and to turn and find our hope in God.  Even though Jesus is unseen, having ascended to the Father, he is still very much with us.  He may be in the heaven of our hopes, but he also walks among us.  Jesus is as near as the person in need, as near as the words of Scripture or the Eucharist we celebrate.  Jesus is as near as our own hearts, when they are stirred up to follow God’s call.  We feel him present to us when we are comforted in trying moments.

We are sustained by the hope that we will join Jesus one day in the place he is preparing for us.  We don’t need to worry about finding the way to get there; we just have to have faith in Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life.  Putting our trust in him, we can one day find ourselves sharing the kingdom with our saving Lord.

But the way isn’t always easy.  The world may very well scatter us and give us trouble; Jesus said as much in today’s Gospel.  Satan uses all the circumstances of our world to draw us away from God and get us all caught up in our own worries.  But we believers need not worry; we can take courage in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world and has not abandoned us.

 

The Ascension of the Lord

Today’s readings

Can you imagine what was going through the disciples’ minds as they stood there watching the Ascension of the Lord?  Think about all that they’ve been through.  Three years following this Jesus whose words were compelling and whose miracles were amazing and whose way of life was uplifting.  But still, there was something about him that they just never seemed to get.  He said he was the Christ, the Anointed One, and so their strong cultural definition of the Messiah was something they projected onto Jesus, but time after time it just never fit.  Then he gets arrested, tried in a farce of a proceeding, put to death like a common criminal and buried for three days.  After that, he is no longer in the tomb, but has risen from the dead and appeared to them many times.  Now they’re gathered forty days later, and he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit.  They breathlessly ask the question that has always been on their minds, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  They still don’t get it.

And so Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit again, and ascends into the sky.  Can you imagine it?  It’s like a roller coaster of emotions for them.  Their heads had to be spinning, they had to be completely lost as to what to do now.  First he was dead and buried, then he came back, and now he’s gone again.  What on earth are they to do now?  Well, the two mysterious men dressed in white garments have all the advice they’re going to get: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?  This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Which only leaves a whole lot more questions, and their basic questions still unanswered.  When will he return?  When will he restore the kingdom?  What is it the Holy Spirit is going to do for them?  Well, soon enough they find out, of course, and we’ll talk about that next week.  For now, it’s enough for us to see what this feast of the Ascension means for us.  I think it makes three points that we must be ready to fold into our faith life.

First, Christ promises us that he will be with us always.  And that’s just what Jesus says to the disciples – and to us! – in the very last words of the very last verse of the very last chapter of Matthew’s Gospel: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  With that, of course, he ascends out of their sight, and so that must have been a confusing promise for the disciples to hear – at least right now.  But this is such an essential point of faith for us to get.  Just as the first disciples continued to know Christ’s presence in their gathering, in their worshipping, and in their serving, so we continue to know Christ’s presence in those same ways.

We believe that Christ is present whenever we gather in his name.  He said as much to us in another place: “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)  We reverence the presence of Christ in one another and can feel him present among us as we pray.  The whole reason we gather is because Christ is present when we gather.

We believe that Christ is present when we worship.  The Word of God, as it is proclaimed in the Church, is not just a nice story or an interesting precept for life.  We believe that God is present in the very proclaiming of the Word itself.  And so at times we may hear the Scriptures and experience a stirring in our heart that leads us to a new way of thinking or acting.  This is because Christ is present – in a sacramental way – in the proclamation of the Word.  And the Sacraments themselves make Christ present when we celebrate them in worship, and we experience that in a special way when we celebrate the Eucharist and receive the body and blood of our Lord in Communion.  Christ is present to us when we worship.

We believe that Christ is present when we serve.  Deep down, we know that the really great things we do are never the result of our own efforts alone.  It’s the Holy Spirit who has prompted us to act or serve or move or speak in certain way.  That same Spirit gives us strength and talent and ability and energy we would never know on our own.  When we serve authentically, aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we know that Christ is present.  So it’s not us feeding the hungry, it’s Christ.  It’s not us proclaiming the Word, it’s Christ.  It’s not us teaching a religious education class, it’s Christ.  It’s not us doing any of this, it’s always Christ, whose hands and feet and lips we have become by the virtue of our baptism.  Christ is present when we serve in his name.

Jesus promised to be with us always, and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit among us, we find him present in our gathering, in our worshipping, and in our serving.  Jesus is with us in our ordinary and extraordinary moments.  Jesus is present in us just as surely as is the breath of life.  And today he promises that that presence will never end, that he will be with us to the end of time.

The second application of the Ascension to our lives is that Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us.  Now, clearly he wasn’t returning to heaven to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls or polish the gold-covered streets.  He goes to heaven to pave the way, because we had lost the way, affected as we all are by original sin and by the sins of our life.  Since we did not know the way, he prepares it for us: opening the door, so to speak, and greeting us.  So we believers who have forged a relationship with our Lord can now look to him to see how to get to that heavenly reward.  All we have to do is follow, and we will find ourselves in that place God intended for us from the beginning.

And the third application of this feast in our lives is that the Christian Mission has been entrusted to our hands.  Christ has ascended into heaven, he has returned to the Father.  So on this feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we can be like the disciples, standing there staring blankly into the heavens, or we can start to live our lives with the expectation of the Lord’s return, as the disciples were told by the two men dressed in white.  Now it’s time for us to take up the Cross, to preach the Word in our words and actions, and to witness to the joy of Christ’s presence among us.  If people are ever going to come to know Christ, if they are ever going to be challenged to grow in their faith, if they are ever going to know that there is something greater than themselves, most likely they’re going to come to know all of that in us.  We have to be transparent in our living so that people won’t be caught up on us, but will come through us to see Jesus, to see the Father, to experience the Spirit.  We are the ones commanded to “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…” As Cardinal George is fond of saying, the Church does not have a mission … the mission has a Church, and we the Church have to take up that mission and run with it.  It is entrusted to us now.

And so today, in the words of the Psalmist, God mounts his throne to shouts of joy.  We are joyous in living our life as Christians, assured of God’s abiding presence until the end of time, looking forward to our heavenly reward, and living the mission for all to see.  A blare of trumpets for the Lord!

 

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Today's readings [display_podcast]

 

ascension-iconCan you imagine what was going through the disicples’ minds as they stood there watching the Ascension of the Lord?  Think about all that they’ve been through.  Three years following this Jesus whose words were compelling and whose miracles were amazing and whose way of life was uplifting.  But still, there was something about him that they just never seemed to get.  He had no problem claiming to be the Christ, the Anointed One, and so their strong cultural definition of the Messiah was something they projected onto Jesus, but time after time it just never fit.  Then he gets arrested, tried in a farce of a proceeding, put to death like a common criminal and buried for three days.  After that, he is no longer in the tomb, but has risen from the dead and appeared to them many times.  Now they’re gathered forty days later, and he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit.  They breathlessly ask the question that has always been on their minds, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  They still don’t get it.

 

And so Jesus promises them the Holy Spirit again, and ascends into the sky.  Can you imagine it?  It’s like a roller coaster of emotions for them.  Their heads had to be spinning, they had to be completely lost as to what to do now.  First he was dead and buried, then he came back, and now he’s gone again.  What on earth are they to do now?  Well, the two mysterious men dressed in white garments have all the advice they’re going to get: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?  This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

 

Which only leaves a whole lot more questions, and their basic questions still unanswered.  When will he return?  When will he restore the kingdom?  What is it the Holy Spirit is going to do for them?  Well, soon enough they find out, of course, and we’ll talk about that next week.  For now, it’s enough for us to see what this feast of the Ascension means for us.  I think it makes three points that we must be ready to fold into our faith life.

 

First, Christ promises us that he will be with us always.  And that’s just what Jesus says to the disciples – and to us! – in the very last words of the very last verse of the very last chapter of Matthew’s Gospel: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  With that, of course, he ascends out of their sight, and so that must have been a confusing promise for the disciples to hear – at least right now.  But this is such an essential point of faith for us to get.  Just as the first disciples continued to know Christ’s presence in their gathering, in their worshipping, and in their serving, so we continue to know Christ’s presence in those same ways. 

 

We believe that Christ is present whenever we gather in his name.  He said as much to us in another place: “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)  We reverence the presence of Christ in one another and can feel him present among us as we pray.  The song we have sung this year – “You’re the only Jesus” – celebrates that we may well be the person who introduces someone else to Christ, that they will come to know Christ as they come to experience our love and care for them.  Christ is present when we gather.

 

We believe that Christ is present when we worship.  The Word of God, as it is proclaimed in the Church, is not just a nice story or an interesting precept for life.  We believe that God is present in the very proclaiming of the Word itself.  And so at times we may hear the Scriptures and experience a stirring in our heart that leads us to a new way of thinking or acting.  This is because Christ is present – in a sacramental way – in the proclamation of the Word.  And the Sacraments themselves make Christ present when we celebrate them in worship, and we experience that in a special way when we celebrate the Eucharist and receive the body and blood of our Lord in Communion.  We have celebrated that in a special way this weekend with our children who have received First Eucharist.  But we celebrate that every time we gather for Mass, whether it be our First Eucharist or our 3,492nd Eucharist!  Christ is present to us when we worship.

 

We believe that Christ is present when we serve.  Deep down, we know that the really great things we do are never the result of our own efforts alone.  It’s the Holy Spirit who has prompted us to act or serve or move or speak in certain way.  That same Spirit gives us strength and talent and ability and energy we would never know on our own.  When we serve authentically, aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we know that Christ is present.  So it’s not us feeding the hungry, it’s Christ.  It’s not us proclaiming the Word, it’s Christ.  It’s not us leading a religious education class, it’s Christ.  It’s not us doing any of this, it’s always Christ, whose hands and feet and lips we have become by the virtue of our baptism.  Christ is present when we serve in his name.

 

Jesus promised to be with us always, and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit among us, we find him present in our gathering, in our worshipping, and in our serving.  Jesus is with us in our ordinary and extraordinary moments.  Jesus is present in us just as surely as is the breath of life.  And today he promises that that presence will never end, that he will be with us to the end of time.

 

The second application of the Ascension to our lives is that Jesus has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us.  Now, clearly he wasn’t returning to heaven to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls or polish the gold-covered streets.  He goes to heaven to pave the way, because we had lost the way, affected as we all are by original sin and by the sins of our life.  Since we did not know the way, he prepares it for us, opening the door, so to speak, and greeting us.  So we believers who have forged a relationsh
ip with our Lord can now look to him to see how to get to that heavenly reward.  All we have to do is follow, and we will find ourselves in that place God intended for us from the beginning. 

 

And the third application of this feast in our lives is that the Christian Mission has been entrusted to our hands.  Christ has ascended into heaven, he has returned to the Father.  So on this feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we can be like the disciples, standing there staring blankly into the heavens, or we can start to live our lives with the expectation of the Lord’s return, as the disciples were told by the two men dressed in white.  Now it’s time for us to take up the Cross, to preach the Word in our words and actions, and to witness to the joy of Christ’s presence among us.  If people are ever going to come to know Christ, if they are ever going to be challenged to grow in their faith, if they are ever going to know that there is something greater than themselves, well most likely they’re going to come to know all of that in us.  We have to be transparent in our preaching and our living so that people won’t be caught up on us, but will come through us to see Jesus, to see the Father, to experience the Spirit.  We are the ones commanded to “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…”  As Cardinal George is fond of saying, the Church does not have a mission … the mission has a Church, and we the Church have to take up that mission and run with it.  It is entrusted to us now.

 

And so today, in the words of the Psalmist, God mounts his throne to shouts of joy.  We are joyous in living our life as Christians, assured of God’s abiding presence until the end of time, looking forward to our heavenly reward, and living the mission for all to see.  A blare of trumpets for the Lord!