Ascension/Mother’s Day Homily

ProLifeCorner-  We recently received this Mother’s Day homily from a good friend. He speaks of the awesomeness of mothers and their role in the family, and yet does so in a lighthearted way. And then he brings us back to the celebration of Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. Enjoy, and may our Lord richly bless all of the Mothers who give their selfless love to all their children.

Ascension/Mother’s Day Homily

Good morning!  Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord in Heaven!  On the Solemnity of the Ascension, the Church does not merely commemorate an historical event in the life of Christ. Rather, on this day, the Church celebrates Christ’s physical departure from time and space, to His glorification with God the Father in eternity.

Each and every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered daily around the world is a celebration and re-enactment of Christ’s glorification.  By glorification, I mean His life and ministry, His suffering, His death, His resurrection, AND His Ascension into heaven!

Moreover, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is a definitive sign and symbol of His glorious Second Coming and the end of time on the last day. The Ascension is Jesus’ legacy.  But, Jesus Christ will return to the earth in the same manner as He left it. When the risen Lord returns again in glory, God’s will for mankind will be fulfilled.

The Ascension is also an impending sign of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which the Church will celebrate next week!

 “Jesus said to His disciples: … You are witnesses of these things.”

Mothers, when they become such, should come with a maintenance agreement which provides for a complete overhaul every five years, three kids, or 500,000 miles, whichever comes first. Here are several points which ought to be included:

Fuel – While most mothers will run indefinitely on hot coffee, pizza, and hamburgers, an occasional gourmet meal for two in elegant surroundings will add immeasurably to increased efficiency.

The Motor – A mother’s motor is probably one of the most dependable anywhere. A mother can start and reach top speed from a prone position at a single cry from a sleeping child. To keep that motor at peak efficiency, regular breaks are recommended. A leisurely bath and nap every 1,000 miles, a baby-sitter every 10,000 miles, and a two-week live-in sitter every 100,000 will do wonders.

The Battery – Batteries should be recharged regularly. Roses, candy, or other thoughtful and unexpected gifts often do the trick.

The Chassis – A mother operates best when her chassis is properly maintained. Her wardrobe would be changed as needed every fall and spring. Regular exercise should be encouraged and provided for. A complete change of hairdo and makeup should be part of the regular maintenance. When the chassis begins to sag, there are a number of possible remedies, including racquetball and Weight Watchers.

Tune-ups Mothers need regular tune-ups. Compliments are both the least-expensive and most appreciated.

By following these simple instructions, the average mother would last a lifetime, providing love and caring to those who need her most.

This year Mother’s Day falls on Ascension Sunday, the day the Church celebrates Jesus ascending to take His place at the right hand of the Father in heaven. We use the image of Him sitting on a throne because He has full authority. We can say that today is the true feast of Christ the King, Jesus’ Enthronement.

Jesus did not ascend into heaven to abandon us; the Church is not a kind of orphanage. As we shall see next Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, Jesus had to ascend so that He could be present with us in the deepest possible way, through His Holy Spirit. We also know, as St. Augustine said, where the Head is, there also is the Body. As members of the mystical Body of Christ, we are already mystically in heaven with Jesus.

This is a great mystery. Some young people who were confirmed recently received some taste of this. Bishop Malloy anointed them on the forehead with Holy Chrism and said, “Be sealed with the gift of the Spirit.” They received an indelible mark, a character on their soul, which, no matter what, will be with them for all eternity. Our life in God begins here on earth and each one of us has the freedom to accept or reject that life.

We can get some inkling of that life, that intimate relationship we have with Jesus our Head, by reflecting on the meaning of parenthood, especially motherhood. Our lives began in total dependence. At a certain time, each one of us was tinier than a raindrop, in fact so small you would have needed magnification to see us. Even then we were receiving sustenance from our mother. But we were not only receiving, we were sending chemically coded messages which were drastically changing her body, her emotions, and even her spirituality. This relationship back and forth of mother and child which grows and grows is something like our relationship with Jesus in the Body of Christ.

This parent-child relationship was lived out in a powerful way when a Jesuit-priest friend of mine was stationed in Peru. For the Aymara Indians that relationship was central to their whole culture. The child’s life revolved around his parents, right up to the day he got married. My friend remembered once talking with a man in his early twenties. He was very sad and my priest-friend asked him why. He told him that he was so in love with this girl and wanted to marry her, but he couldn’t. “What happened?”

My priest-friend asked, “Didn’t she want to?” “No,” he said, “She very much wants to marry me, but my parents told me she is not the right girl for me.”

I was pretty shocked when my priest-friend told me this, but then I started thinking. Maybe we have lost something in our culture. Our young people get married on the basis of romantic attraction, and the parents generally have very little say. But we are not exactly getting long-lasting marriages. Maybe we should take another look at the fourth commandment, “Honor your father and mother.”

Our culture says that parents are responsible for their child until they turn 18. They might then say to their 18-year old, “You are on your own now, kid.” But young people are not totally comfortable with this set-up. A University Chaplain told me that the commandment college students most struggle with is not the sixth which prohibits use of sex apart from marriage. The toughest one is what I just mentioned, the fourth; “Honor your father and mother.” It may surprise some parents to know they are in some way more important to their children at that stage than any other.

This is the case for most of the young Hispanics who have come to the United States. When I ask them why they came, they inevitably say, “To be able to help out my mom and dad.” They are thinking about their parents all the time, and it is what can keep them from falling into some of the traps and temptations here. In fact, if we really lived the fourth commandment, we wouldn’t have so much trouble with the others. We have to remind ourselves from time to time that if society gets our young people to reject or rebel against their parent’s authority, then all other authority, like the Church and civil authority, is rejected all the more easier.

A lot of our parents can feel overwhelmed, even frightened, about raising children in this society. That is especially true for moms. Society pressures them to feel like they have to be “super-moms,” perfect in every way. I want to say something here. I have a great mom; I am really proud of her. But there is one burden I would never want to put on her—or any mom, the burden of having to be perfect.

A feminist friend of mine expressed this dilemma. She has on her wall a poster which says:

I am woman,

I am strong.

I can do anything. Then below in small letters, it reads:

But I’m really very tired.

Young mothers can feel overwhelmed by this demand to be super-moms. So we need to establish more realistic expectations.

Children and high school students will sometimes share with me the inadequacies of their parents and it causes a lot of suffering. I always thank them for their confidence in talking with me, but I also tell them, “God chose exactly the parents He wanted you to have. Through them, God not only gave you the gift of life, but the continued gift of His protection—as long as you honor and obey them.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are joined to Jesus our Head, who is now ascended into heaven, and by being joined to Him we are deeply united with—and responsible for—each other. But there is an added bonus which I want to mention today. I said that none of us has a perfect mother. That is not totally true. When Jesus hung on the cross, He performed one last act of kindness. His soon-to-be widowed mother stood at his feet along with the beloved disciple John. Since Jesus had no brothers or sisters, He entrusted His mother to the beloved disciple, when He said, “Women, behold thy son. Son, behold thy mother.”

But this was not only an act of earthly care. Scripture scholars tell us the beloved disciple John stands for the whole Church – you and I. Jesus gave His mother to each one of us. Mary is the mother of the Church – the Mother of the baptized. We do after all have a perfect mother.

So mothers, you can be at peace. Even if you are not a “super-mom” you can do something even better. Please, entrust your children to the Mother of God. Because when you abandon the Mother, you are one step away from abandoning the Son!

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!  

Ascension Sunday (Mother’s Day) Cycle C

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Acts 1:1-11   Ephesians 1:17-23   Luke 24:46-53

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