Fr Billy Swan
Dear friends. Today we celebrate the feast of the Lord’s ascension as we move towards the end of Easter when Jesus was lifted up in glory to the Father. The Ascension marks the completion of his work that began by coming down to the world in solidarity with all humanity – as a child first, then as a man, as one who lived, loved, saved, suffered and who rose again. As he did so, he drew us into the life of God and lifted us up to a destiny of hope that we could not possibly imagine for ourselves or achieve ourselves. By his life here on earth, Jesus raised up our value, our dignity and taught us we have received, in the words of St Paul in the second reading, ‘the rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit’. Paul prays that God may ‘enlighten the eyes of our minds so that we can see what hope his call holds for us’. Paul is urging us never to forget the destiny to which we are called because Jesus is Lord of all and before all. Nothing else should take his place for he is ‘above every sovereignty, authority and power’.
On most days when we wake up, we think of the immediate things we have to do – the chores and demands of everyday life. We react to whatever is in front of us. All this is good but sometimes the deeper questions of life press upon us. Who am I? Who did God created me to be? What does my life mean? Where is my life headed? In order to answer these questions, we need to go to a higher place, to climb and to allow God to help us see the bigger picture.
This is why Jesus often brought his disciples to the top of a mountain to teach them something important. We see it on the Mount of the Beatitudes, on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration, on the Hill of Calvary and here now on the hill of Bethany outside Jerusalem where he ascended into heaven. Jesus has been raised up by the Father into glory and he desires to take us with him. Friends, this is our life, this is our calling and our destiny. Let us never forget the destiny of our pilgrimage and live every aspect of our lives in the light of that.
I conclude with the words of the very popular song ‘You Raise me Up’ that captures the spirit of the Ascension. May we be raised up today by our faith and hope in Jesus Christ who is Lord of all and who has raised us up to be ‘more than we can be’.
‘There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be’.