posted on May 12, 2013 21:10
Homily: Seminarian Samuel Bagyo, Jr.
Blessed Sacrament Parish
May 12, 2013 -7th Sunday of Easter, Feast of Ascension
10 AM Service
Who is a good (hero) example for you? Why is he or she a good (hero) example?
A hero provides more than a good example for others; he or she provides a standard of virtue. Some heroes are authentic, others prove to be two-dimensional, not because of their actions, but because of their intent. The authentic hero is transparent; that person practices what he or she preaches.
Jesus is a hero. That might ring strange in our ears, but it is true. His example was the cross, his virtue was love through self-giving. Of course, he is more than a hero, for he shares that love with us, the love he had with his Father. When he prayed for us, he wanted us to be part of his example and his virtue. He wanted us to share in the glory of the cross and the love God had for the world. For one to become a hero there is a journey to embark on:
Can you become a hero to the world by living the virtues of the Gospel message? Can you live to be the only gospel passage for someone to read of heroes who impact the world? By virtue of our baptism and confirmation we have been given the tools and necessary equipment to effect a transformation in the world and that tool is the power of the Holy Spirit given to each one of us.
From the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles and the gospel of today, which happened to be the same author (St. Luke) of the two reading, we hear, Jesus leaves his disciples forty days after his resurrection? Forty is a significant number in the scriptures. Moses went to the mountain to seek the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting. The people of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in preparation for their entry into the Promised Land. Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of God.
Jesus fasted forty days and nights in the wilderness before his public ministry. For forty days after his resurrection Jesus appeared numerous times to his disciples to assure them that he had risen indeed and to prepare them for the task of carrying on the work which he began during his earthy ministry. Jesus' departure and ascension was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus' physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus' presence with them in a new way through the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time (Matthew 28:20).
Now as the glorified and risen Lord and Savior, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would anoint them with power on the Feast of Pentecost, just as Jesus was anointed for his ministry at the River Jordan. When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left in sorrow or grief. Instead, they were filled with joy and with great anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus' last words to his apostles point to his saving mission and to their mission to be witnesses of his saving death and his glorious resurrection and to proclaim the good news of salvation to the whole world. Their task is to proclaim the gospel the good news of salvation not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations as well. God's love and gift of salvation is not reserved for a few or for one nation alone, but it is for the whole world for all who will accept it.
Jesus admonishes you and I not to be anxious of the year, day and time of his return. We should bear fruits and live our faith as if each day was our last day. As Christians we must not be preoccupied with the last day as we hear it been said time and again that such and such year the world is coming to an end. Jesus made it categorically clear about the end time and this belong to God alone. If we live our baptismal promises and the fear of the Lord we would not be perturbed by the last days.
Our Lord suffered, died and rose on the third day and spent forty days with the Apostles and the disciples. Now just before He ascends into heaven, He leaves his Church with his message of love, mercy and forgiveness. The Apostles experience the Lord's mercy and now He gives them the commission to go out into the whole world and preach forgiveness of sins in the power of the most holy of names- Jesus.
Because the apostles preached as Christ told them, we are all beneficiary of the Lord's mercy, we have experience this in our hearts. We too must bear witness to the work of Jesus Christ. We know that an apple seed if given proper nourishment will become an apple tree and produce fruits in my seasons. We know this through experience; God made the apple seed and gave it power to become an apple tree.
Now Christ tells the apostles, He would cloth them with the power from on high so that they will be bless with something that is well beyond their human nature and power, they will be given the power to bear abundant fruits for the kingdom of Christ. 2000 years later Christ is still clothing people with his power from on high, with the gifts of the Holy Spirit which we received when we were baptized and in greater proportion when we were confirmed. Through prayer, we begin to see with supernatural vision the person we can be and the fruits we can produce.
The apostles were sad and dejected when our Lord told them that He would be leaving; now they are filled with awe and praise. The scales have fallen from their eyes, the shadow of the cross no longer strike the same fear in their hearts. Christ has conquered sin and death and they are witnesses to this but they have experienced it in their own lives.
This past lent, we accompanied our Lord in his passion and death, we then witness his resurrection and now we see him ascending into heaven. Like the apostles, we too are so moved to stand in awe of a greater God that we are compelled to sing his praises day and night. This attitude goes hand in hand with being messengers of his love to all peoples.
The gospel is the power of God, the power to release people from their burden of guilt, sin, and oppression, and the power to heal, restore, and make us whole. Do you believe in the power of the gospel? This is the great commission which the risen Christ gives to the whole church. All believers have been given a share in this task to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Jesus Christ, the only savior of the world. We have not been left alone in this task, for the risen Lord works in and through us by the power of his Holy Spirit.
Today we witness a new Pentecost as the Lord pours out his Holy Spirit upon his people to renew and strengthen the body of Christ and to equip it for effective ministry and mission world-wide. Do you witness to others the joy of the gospel and the hope of the resurrection? The Lord Jesus, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, has filled us with an indomitable spirit of praise and joy which no earthly trial can subdue. He filled us with his resurrection joy and helps us to live a life of praise and thanksgiving for his glory.
Lord Jesus we want to be a holy dwelling place of the Spirit. Your gift to us is truth and love; you nourish us with things of heaven. May we decrease so that you may increase. We will speak well of others and shun all tendencies to criticize others or speak badly of them.
Samuel Bagyo, Jr. is a 2nd year theology student at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. He is studying to be a priest for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.