Saturday, May 7, 2016

Solemnity of Our Lord's Ascension Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

The Promise

There was a time in the churches, both Catholic and non-Catholic, when the Holy Spirit was considered as the forgotten person of the blessed Trinity. This was because he was rarely mentioned or if mentioned it was only as part of a prayer formula. People then did not have an ongoing conscious relationship with him as they had with God the Father and God the Son. Then the Pentecostal movement arose in the non-Catholic churches, followed by the charismatic renewal movement in the Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit became more and more known again.

The movement to learn more and more about the Holy Spirit may be new to most people, but the Holy Spirit has been with us even before the creation of this world. From all eternity God the Father wanted to give this Holy Spirit to us as his gift and he promised during the history of the nation Israel that he would give this gift to us.

This is what Jesus meant when he said before leaving us in physical form as proclaimed in our Gospel reading today, "And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you". He said that he would send the promise of his Father upon his disciples.

Today we remember that Jesus left us physically by ascending to heaven. We are not as aware that he had to leave us in order to send us the gift which he and his Father God had wanted to give us from all eternity and which he promised several times that he would give us: the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said, "If I fail to go, the Paraclete will never come to you, whereas if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:7).

It is well for us to reflect on this promise of God the Father so that we will have a greater appreciation for and love of the Holy Spirit so that when we remember his coming to us next Sunday we will welcome him with greater joy and happiness.

The Holy  Spirit was promised by God explicitly eight centuries before Christ. In the Prophecy of Isaiah we read, "I will pour out my spirit upon your offspring" (44:3). Two hundred years later he renewed this promise through Ezekiel. It is mentioned by this prophet at least three times in his book, notably in chapter 36: "I will put my spirit within you" (v. 27). Still two hundred years later God again renewed this promise in the famous prophecy of Joel which is quoted by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, "Then afterward I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind" (Joel 3:1). Thus we see that every two hundred years since the time of Isaiah God promised to send his Spirit, not just to a select few who would do a special mission for him, but to all who would believe in Jesus.

From all eternity God wanted to give himself to us. He would do this by giving us his own Spirit, who is also the Spirit of Jesus. This is his most precious gift to us, greater by an infinite degree, than the gift of all creation to us.

Receiving this gift we would have God's own Spirit with all the power, wisdom, goodness and holiness that he has. Can God give us someone or something greater than himself?

We know by memory John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave us his son. But God did not stop there. He gave us his Spirit so that his son Jesus can live within us.

Now Jesus is no longer a person outside of us. By his Spirit he is inside our body, inside our soul to make us live the way God wants us to live.

No greater promise can God make to us than the promise of giving himself to us and no greater gift can he give us than the gift of himself through his Spirit.

Because of this gift in us, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit live in us! What more can we desire? Our Catechism in number 1239 expresses this truth of the indwelling of the Trinity in us as "entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity". The Triune God comes into us as we enter into his life, just as a sponge is in the water and the water is in the sponge.

The Carmelite St. Elizabeth of the Trinity lived this reality of the indwelling Trinity to the full and exclaimed with that beautiful prayer which we will pray today.

Let us bow our heads and you follow me as I pray her prayer, even just in your mind.

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely, in order to establish myself in You, motionless and tranquil, as if my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing trouble my peace or cause me to leave You, O my changeless One, but let each minute carry me further into the depths of Your Mystery. Amen. (copied from TRINITY WHOM I ADORE, Frederick Pustet Co., Inc., 1953).

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