Until the End of the Ages

The Ascension of the Lord | May 21, 2023

See today’s readings here. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

Additional homilies from this day in the liturgical season: Easter 7A/Ascension Sunday – 2014, 2020

So one of the quotes of Francis de Sales that gets a lot of play this time of year is also one of my favorites.

Those who go, stay. And those who stay, go.

And it was shared again on Thursday as our seniors at Salesianum celebrated their final mass with the entire school community.

But when Mass ended, one of my colleagues walked up to me and goes. You know that quote doesn’t make any sense right.

And yes, in a technical sense, he is right.

We can’t be in two places at once. Trust me, if I had figured that out my life would have been so much easier.

And yet, that quote remains.

Reminding us that where we are is always more than our physical presence.

It is also about the mark we leave on one another.

The words that echo in our minds that remind us that we can do this. That we are enough. That we are loved.

It is the memory of touch. Of bodies held tight by those who protect us, cherish us, nuture us.

It is the stories we hold in our hearts. Of experiences shared. Moments of grace and goodness that we can so easily recall.

A piece of us is intertwined with each person we have every interacted with, for good and for ill. And know turn,a piece of them has become a part of us.

And it’s funny. But I’m pretty sure this is paradox contained in the feast for today.

For our readings directly contradict each other.

Our 1st reading has disciples looking for Jesus who is gone. Disappeared into the clouds.

And the other has Jesus reminding us that he is with us always.

They can’t both be true can they?

But maybe, like the De Sales quote, there is more than just physical presence.

There are the words that we proclaim and read from our sacred scriptures.

There are the symbols. Of water and oil. Of bread and wine. Of hands laid and ashes sprinkled.

And there are the ongoing experience of a christ who chooses to remain part of his body. Who lives and loves in each member of that body. As we pray and serve. As we learn and teach. As we struggle and heal. As we succeed and fail. As we dream and as we die.

Christ has gone. And yet he stays

Within us. Among us. Working through us.

And in turn, we to shall emulate our savior.

We too shall go throughout our lives. We will graduate and move. Retire and transition.

And at the same time, we shall always remain. Part of this church. Part of this community. Part of each of us who have gathered here this night.

So whichever life invites you to in this moment. Whether you go or stay.

Know that we are with each other always. Until the end of the ages.

May God be Praised

IMAGE ATTRIBUTION: JESUS MAFA. The Ascension, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48398 [retrieved May 24, 2023]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).

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