Ascension / 7 Easter

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Contents: Volume 2 - Ascension / 7 Easter - 05/13/2018





7 Easter

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. – (Your reflection can be here!)






Ascension 2018

I readily understand the Apostles' confusion and sadness as they stood there watching Jesus ascend into heaven. I bet anyone who has had to say goodbye to a loved one, temporarily for an extended time or finally when he or she has died, knows a bit of the numbness that accompanies such a departure. No wonder, even with the instructions and promises given by Jesus, that our first reading tells us that the two men dressed in white (angels) asked them, "why are you looking up at the sky?"

Although stunned for sure, the Apostles eventually began to recall those words of Jesus, the promises that repeatedly sustained them. Soon, after the Holy Spirit came upon them, they "went forth and preached everywhere" as the Gospel according to Mark tells us, even to the ends of the earth... and so here we are!!! What is a positive thing we can do when we feel such a numbness or just a seemingly overwhelming confusion?

When we go back and recall the "promises" of someone we love who has to leave, promises to write or call or return in x amount of time, and, in fact, those things actually happened, we can understand how the Apostles did what they did, with the help of the booster shot of the Holy Spirit's power. When we are dragging, for whatever reason, we can do the same. We can reflect on the times when we just knew Jesus was at our side as a confirmation of his promises as well as claim what is identified in Ephesians 1 as the "hope that belongs to his call".

Hope is powerful. It allows us to withstand confusion, doubt, trials, hardships... and a whole lot more. It allows us to overcome those things and continue our witness in our families, workplaces, neighborhoods, parishes, and wherever we are called.

I am pretty sure the Apostles first felt a bit abandoned at the Ascension, but the Holy Spirit soon took care of that. Let us pray, as we remember Jesus's promises to the Apostles (and us) and the fruits of the Apostles' actions, that, we, too, might continue to hope, no matter our present circumstances. Jesus's promises are true!


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Ascension Thursday May 10 2018 (In U.S. celebrated on May 13 in place of Seventh Sunday)

Acts 1:1-11; Responsorial Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23 (the first of three choices -- all from Ephesians); Gospel Acclamation Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-20

For more than a thousand years the nation of Israel waited and longed for a Divine Intervention that would safeguard and guarantee the existence of Israel for all time. Especially when Israel split into two kingdoms, Israel to the North and Judah to the South, the longing for fulfillment of the promise given to David by the prophet Nathan was a constant prayer and hope for a better time. The definition of the hoped-for renewed kingdom was based on an idealized and exaggerated remembering of the reign of David. Over time the faults and foibles of David were glossed over and much of the richness and grandeur of David’s son, Solomon, were attributed to David’s reign. The split of the nation was a tragedy in the consciousness of persons of both nations. The reason for the split was in fact the excesses of Solomon and the decision of his heir to impose more obligations and taxes on the people of the nation. As bad as the split was, it was the devastation, slaughter, horror, and enslavement of the nation of Judah by Babylon that raised myriad questions about Yahweh’s absence from the nation. It appeared to many that Yahweh had reneged on his covenant with Moses and the descendants of those who left Egypt on that first Passover. The Hebrew people had been freed then. They shared a hurried meal on the night of the passage of the angel of death over Egypt. The chosen people were protected by the blood of an innocent lamb painted on the lintels of their homes. During the Babylonian Captivity, there was much soul searching and many prophets spoke their prophecies in an increasing crescendo. The great prophet Isaiah -- more accurately, the great prophets Isaiah -- presented an image of the new reign of God that would be initiated by a spotless lamb. This is where confusion enters in. Did the second prophet Isaiah mean to say "lamb" or did he mean to say "Servant". That Isaiah chose a Hebrew word that means both servant and lamb is important. There are ten songs in the second Isaiah that are known as the Suffering Servant songs. They are beautiful and poignant, filled with meaning and intensity. Isaiah and the other prophets of the Captivity saw a successor to David who was not one on a regal throne surveying and judging. The Messiah, the once and future king who was to come would not be lifted up by pomp and circumstance. The new king would be a servant who suffered for the nation: the new king would be an innocent lamb whose very blood would save the nation from death. That king would be something more, a new revelation, a new truth, a new reality about man and God. In his servitude to the people he would establish a relationship with Yahweh that surpassed all earlier relationships.

In the first reading from Acts, Luke addresses his work to Theophilus. Was this a person or a generic title for all Christians? It means one loved by God. Just as the Hebrews wandered forty years in the desert, just as Jesus fasted and prayed forty days in the desert before he began his ministry, just as the common understanding of that time was that forty was the typical length of time for a single generation --- so also Jesus spending forty days with his disciples after his being raised up. This is an attempt by Jesus to explain more clearly the prophecies and historic relationship of God with man. It was Jesus putting together for these disciples talking points for their evangelization. Yet, after all these days of instruction, what do these disciples say to Jesus; what is their burning question as he about to leave them? "Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" We can imagine Jesus shaking his head in disbelief. The disciples still thought the Messiah had come to establish a new Kingdom of David. The disciples’ question is understandable. As immature Christians, we look very much to the temporal and worldly qualities of wealth, control, and prestige as signs of God’s presence. However, as we live we our longing changes from the material to a more spiritual perspective of the value and goals of human life. As we mature physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually we grow in our heart’s understanding of God and his awesomeness. We come to understand the phrase "fear of the Lord" as our consciousness of the awesomeness of God. We become more and more conscious of his presence in the moments of our living. However, before we arrive at that maturity we frequently underestimate the difficulty of growing spiritually. We must have the presence of the Spirit so that we have the energy, the stamina, the insight, the inspiration, and the resolve to be witnesses "in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." That is the function of Christians. We are to be witnesses of the presence of God and his mighty works. Those mighty works are visible in creation of all that is. That mighty work is visible in the history of humankind’s relationships to the universe, the earth, the nation, the community, and the family. When we join in the work of the suffering servant in the liturgy of Christian Service, we discover God present within and around us. We cut through the fog and mists of the ways of the world and become conscious of God here and now. In the meantime we often stand mouth a-gape looking to the heavens. God is with us in our daily joys and sorrows, triumphs and failures, good relationships and terrible relationships. Let’s get to work on our personal growth in the Spirit; let us hear the Spirit in all her utterances; let us live the gift of life and of faith and so be witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to all the nations to the very ends of the earth. We’re got to let go of the false ‘gospel of prosperity.’ We’ve got to let go of the ‘gospel of rules and regulations’; we’ve got to let go of our pride that imitates the Pharisee shouting self-serving holiness in the front row of the temple while denying the dignity and worth of the publican. We must to accept as gift what God has given us -- life, resources, revelation, and the presence of his Son and the gift of the Spirit of Wisdom and Knowledge.

The Spirit is a-coming; let us clean house, set the table, and invite all to share the banquet of the Lord by our thoughts and deeds. May it be so!

Seventh Sunday of Easter May 13 2018

Acts 1:15-26; Responsorial Psalm 103; 1st John 4:11-16; Gospel Acclamation John 14:18; John 17:11-19

The Ascension of Jesus in most dioceses is moved to the Sunday forty three days after the Easter Event. There are practical, pragmatic reasons for this. Even so, we miss the wonderful readings for the Seventy Sunday. These readings are filled with clear and practical instructions for following in the way of Jesus. In the reading from Acts, Peter takes on his responsibility of leadership. The twelve tribes of Israel are to be represented and the place of Judas must be filled. Matthias is chosen following discernment and prayer. In our own time and place there is a huge scarcity of ordained persons to preach, to preside at the Eucharist, and to serve as conduit for the Sacraments. Let us pray that our leadership prays and discerns the Will of God as presented by the inspiration of the Spirit to address this problem by revisiting and gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of the priesthood, prophet-hood, and shepherd-hood extended to all persons in Baptism and Confirmation. Let us pray that our hearts be open to the movement of the Spirit.

In the reading from the first letter of John, we are reminded that God loves us beyond comprehension. If we accept this gift of God we must share that gift with others. We know that we remain in God and God in us because he has given us his Spirit. John’s is a very simple statement. In its simplicity we may come to believe it is not challenging. In its simplicity we may overlook the challenge of loving one another. What a difference it would be were we to love each person who is other than we! Our anger and violence would diminish. We would find ways of appreciating the other: we would find peace and an abiding joy that would remove stress and provide us with more health. We would come to a greater consciousness of God presence in the moments of our days.

The gospel reading from John is part of Jesus’ teaching of his disciples at the last meal they ate together before his passion and death. In this passage Jesus prays to the Father. Jesus prays his followers become one with each other as Jesus and the Father are One. That is a lofty goal. When we look to our relationships with others, can we say we are one? Can we even say, "We’d like to be one and are working to become one"?

When we think about how the disciples -- even after Jesus’ preaching, curing, and death and resurrection -- didn’t get it. Even after all these events they still thought the Kingdom of God was some sort of empire of peace and prosperity. In this prayer to the Father, Jesus insists his followers do not belong to this world. Again, there is unrest in many spirits if we think about this. Do we belong to the world? Is that how we think of ourselves? Jesus continues his prayer. "I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one." As followers of the Way of Jesus we are the leaven to the world. In a world where leadership is often merely a pursuit of personal power: in a world where success is assessed by the size of a bank statement or the square footage of a house or the use of the latest technology or the brilliance of one’s children --- in such a world it is easy to be taken in. Jesus prays that his followers be consecrated in the truth.

Seems there is much work to be done in our spirits and in our living witness to the world. May God answer Jesus’ prayer and lead us to being one with each other and with the God who saves us. May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller






In our Creed today we will be saying of Jesus: ' … he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.' What picture comes to mind when we think of Jesus ascending into heaven? Do we picture him moving through the clouds like a space ship at Cape Canaveral? If we do, we don't realize that those words are not to be taken literally. They are a poetic way of saying that In his risen transformed body Jesus is no longer on earth in a physical and material way. He has gone to God and now lives with God in light, joy and glory.

And yet, in the words of our psalm today, in going to God he became ‘great king over all the earth’. He is still among us, then, and we continue to experience his presence, guidance and love in special ways. In our being with one another and sharing our lives! In taking to heart the words and messages in the Readings about him! In coming to his table and being fed, nourished and refreshed by him! In the leadership of our priests! In the acceptance, inspiration and encouragement from our fellow parishioners and others! In our efforts to make the world a better place by our compassionate outreach to needy people!

In short, as we keep on being ‘good news’ people, Jesus our Risen Lord stays with us. In the words of our Gospel today, he stays with us ‘confirming the word by the signs which accompany it’ (Mark 16:20).

Today, however, we might also recognise his ascension as his destiny, and express our joy that at the end of his life’s journey, God raised him to life and took him to himself for the eternal embrace of love that we call ‘heaven’. Like ourselves Jesus dreamt of this day. With his whole being he longed to see God face-to-face, and to enjoy without distraction the mutual love for which we are all created, and for which deep down we all yearn. Since we admire, respect and love Jesus so much, we are very happy for him that he has reached his destination, and that his time of waiting and suffering are over. Nothing can come between the longings of his heart and the joy of their fulfilment in God.

So he remains forever with both God the Father and with us who are now his body on earth. Though ‘seated at the right hand of the Father’ as we pray in the Gloria, his heart reaches out to us beyond all limits of space and time. This is just as he promised: ‘When I am lifted up from the earth I shall draw everyone to myself’ (John 12:32). Through his powerful presence to us he keeps bringing about the reign of God’s love in our broken world, even when both as individuals and communities we reject his love by falling into sin. But nothing or no one can stop the love of God for us that keeps on burning in the great heart of Jesus.

Thankfully, millions of men and women, boys and girls, keep accepting, welcoming, and living this love. They keep responding to it with the gift of their lives. Some even do so to the point of heroism, by literally laying down their lives for Christ. In fact, to look at the big picture, for all the horrors of hate, anger and violence that swirl around us, there is much more love happening in our world than hate, anger and violence.

Our Feast of the Ascension today reminds us overall that the goal of our life is the same as his. We, and everyone else, are called like Jesus to enjoy without distraction or hindrance, the company of God for ever.

Finally, our celebration of his ascension reminds us to let ourselves experience the absence of Jesus as well as his presence. Like his first followers we are sad at his not being here with us in the flesh, where we might see him, touch him and be loved by him in the ways we meet one another. But missing his physical presence reminds us that we are not meant to find our final home in this world, and must keep walking our own individual journeys of both joy and suffering as he did.

Meanwhile, let him encourage us with his Last Supper words: ‘I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am, you may also be’ (John 14:3). Let him encourage us too with his Last Supper prayer: ‘Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me ...’ (John 17:24). Meanwhile too, let these words from the Preface of our Feast also encourage us: ‘Christ has passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us but to be our hope. He is the head of the church; where he has gone, we hope to follow.’

For the blessing, then, of our shared destiny, let us give sincere and heartfelt thanks to God, in the rest of our Eucharist today!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>









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