Homily for Ascension Thursday

There was probably some separation anxiety present when Jesus departed from their midst. After all, he had just spent a few years with them, every day during that length of time. The Apostles he called from their boats, tax tables, and wherever else, they were not 9 to 5 workers with weekends off. They didn’t have bankers’ hours. They were literally fulltime with Christ, all the time, unless Jesus could sneak away in the early morning, find a mountainside, and pray. Even then, they would go running after him like sheep chasing their Shepherd. Separation anxiety on display.
So, there was likely some separation anxiety when the cloud came down – the kidnapping cloud, kidnapping Jesus from them – and took him away to his rightful place at the right hand of the Father. But they got over his ascending fairly quickly, I would venture to guess. When he instructed them to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature,” their separation anxiety dissipated, because their words were backed up by signs and wonders that revealed he was still with them. He stayed with them through the beatings, the crosses, the prison sentences, the joys and the healings. Both highs and lows, Jesus remained with his disciples in ways of closeness and intimacy.
Has this closeness and intimacy of Christ our Lord ever been placed on hold? At some point over the past 20 centuries, has Jesus our Savior ever closed the door between heaven and earth, between him and us, and said, “That’s it! I don’t want any more of you!” … in the meantime giving us separation anxiety? We’ve produced countless scenarios for that possibility, haven’t we? From world wars, civil wars, fractures in his Church, actions of hatred and sin – too many to be counted or named. The reasons for him to separate himself from us are there. But I pray we know the honest answer that he has not for one moment in time abandoned us and left us to our own devices.
The importance of this day in the Church’s calendar cannot be overstated. Even though the Ascension of the Lord is a day where many – too many – Catholics will lack the effort to come to the Eucharist, – unlike yourselves – Jesus being taken up by a cloud remains a cornerstone in our relationship with him. It opens for us the possibility of separation anxiety, not with another person, but with the living God and resurrected Christ. That should scare the living daylights out of us. If it doesn’t, check your pulse. See if you still have one.
The Ascension of our Lord into heaven is a setup for three major aspects of our faith journey. First, the Ascension sets up the word, the actual writing of the New Testament. The word we hear proclaimed, left behind through the Spirit guiding the writers, with the soothing power to move our hearts, and lessen any anxiety we may experience toward the Lord’s seeming absence, and loved ones no longer here.
Second, the Eucharist results from our Lord’s Ascension. The Eucharist is the number one medicine against the condition of feeling separated from God. In our reception, we internalize Him. The two of us become one. There’s no possible separation in our reception of the Eucharist. Of course, this is directly connected to the authenticity of our belief.
And third, the Ascension is a setup for Pentecost. We are people of the Spirit. In the Ascension, Christ makes room now for the Spirit to work in our daily living. The Apostles will come to know this beyond their best imaginations.
No separation anxiety needed between us and the Creator. He has it all covered despite a kidnapping cloud. Thanks be to God.

SCHEDULE FOR HOLY WEEK SERVICES

Our schedule for Holy Week services is as follows: Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 p.m. followed by adoration in the Church until 11:00 p.m. Good Friday: Stations of the Cross at Noon; Good Friday Service at 3:00 p.m. Easter Vigil Mass begins at 7:15 p.m. Easter Sunday Masses at 7:30 & 10:00 a.m.

Parish Council Notes rom March 18 Meeting

Present for meeting: Polly Flynn, Stephen Sycks, Christopher Klofft, Josephine Ferrie, Ann-Marie Sheehan, Fr. Riley and Matthew Foster Immaculate Conception is nearing its renewal period with the leasing of the Father Connor Center. Representatives of IC are preparing to renew that arrangement with the Guild of St. Agnes and do not anticipate any issues.
As we head towards Easter, Immaculate Conception is anticipating 5 Baptisms at the Easter Vigil, as well as 5 Confirmations and five First Communions, 8 Confirmations in our Religious Education Program to be confirmed at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday, April 8, and 10 First communions candidate in our 2nd grade class to receive their First Communion on Saturday, May 5.
The St. Patrick’s Day dinner was a huge success, hosting over 140 people! Congratulations to the Parish Activities Committee who put on the event. In an effort to support and facilitate future events for other groups, there was discussion on creating some standard operating procedures (SOPs) for using church facilities.
There was some discussion regarding some improvements that will begin being addressed to include the sidewalk railings around the church, concrete upkeep and the possibility of redesigning one of the confessional areas into an adoration chapel.
There will be a talk given on the Humanae Vitae in June by Dr. Christopher Klofft. This event will celebrate and coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Papal document.
M Foster gave a report on the men’s conference and discussed the continuing of support to reach out to more men in the parish for participation. We also discussed the upcoming women’s conference and how to support it in a similar fashion.
Follow ups that we discussed briefly: Snow plowing, works of mercy, Sound System and Partners in Charity.
Closing prayer was offered by Fr. Riley