18 May 2013

Update for Next Week

No blogging this next week. . .

Our provincial assembly starts in St Louis on Monday, May 20th and runs through Thursday, May 23rd. 

I'll be back in time for the 7.00am Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary on Friday the 24th.

Look for a big announcement on May 23rd.  Mum's the word for now.  Ssshhhhhh. . .

Wedding on the 25th.

And my 49th birthday on Sunday the 26th.  Oy.  I've asked for a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. . .of course.

Happy feast day to St. Philip Neri!

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ----->

God keeps His promises: the Holy Spirit!

NB.  There's a 63.5% chance that I will revise this one in the morning.  Meh.

Pentecost Sunday (C) 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
St. Dominic Church, NOLA 

 The Lord our God keeps His word! Through His prophets He promised the gift of a Messiah who would suffer as a servant for sinners and die at the hands of his enemies for the sake of the world. The long-awaited Messiah came among us as a child: born of a virgin; raised on the Law; and anointed by the Holy Spirit at the River Jordan. During his three- year ministry, he reveals the power of God by healing the diseased and injured; raising the dead to new life; feeding thousands with food enough for only a few; liberating souls held captive by unclean spirits; and teaching the word of spirit and truth to anyone who would listen. He is opposed at every turn by jealousy, greed, ambition, and ignorance; and, finally, he is betrayed by one he calls a friend. Falsely accused, illegally tried, he is found guilty by a mob and executed by the Empire. But he makes a promise to his disciples: “. . .the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. . .” The Lord our God keeps His word! To his disciples he promises the gift of an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to renew the body and soul of his Church. 

The Lord our God kept His promise to send among us a Savior to suffer and die for our sins. That Savior, Jesus the Christ, promised that the Father would also send among us an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to teach us and to remind us of everything he had said and done. Gathered together in the Upper Room—terrified, despairing, anxious—the disciples wait to be discovered. Do they remember the Lord's promise? His warning? Do they have any idea what's about to happen to them? “Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind. . .Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. . .” One Holy Spirit roars into the Upper Room. Divides. Then descends all at once upon each one of the disciples. Not a different spirit to each. But One Spirit to each, all at once. The same Holy Spirit given to every disciple. And though each disciple receives the same Spirit, each one manifests a different gift. When all of these different gifts are brought together with one heart and mind and the freely given in service to preaching and teaching of the Good News, the Church is born. The Lord our God keeps His promises; He keeps His word. 

Before he begins his Passion, Jesus says to the disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Whoever loves Christ will make good on his promises. And whoever makes good on Christ's promises will be loved by the Father. Jesus says “we will make our dwelling” with those who keep the Word. We. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost—the birth of the Church—celebrates the day, the moment when the Holy Spirit came to dwell with us and remain with us. With the Spirit among us we are not only capable of keeping Christ's word, we are do so with all the strength and integrity of the Blessed Trinity. Through our varied gifts we—each one of us—manifests the Spirit for the glory of God, drawing in and teaching anyone who longs for God's mercy. Our gifts are made purer, stronger, holier in their work for the kingdom, and we are made more perfect in love by sharing God's love. The Holy Spirit is sent to be our Advocate, the one who defends us against the dark accusations of the world. But we are not permitted to simply hide away in a room and shake ourselves silly in fear of the world. The Spirit enlivens, empowers, ignites, and He pushes us out in the world as witnesses to the freely given mercy of God.

Think about it. What do the disciples do the moment the Holy Spirit endows them with His gifts? “[They] began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” Different languages? Yes. Though all of the disciples were Galileans they were understood by Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Asians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs. They were also understood by “both Jews and converts to Judaism.” In other words, not only were they speaking different languages, they were speaking in a way that anyone who heard them could understand what they were saying. How is this possible? They were given the gift of being able to speak to the deepest longing of every human creature, the desire of every man, woman, and child to love and be loved by their Creator. The gift of the Church—then and now—is to be the Body and Word of Christ, the living sacrament of God's mercy to all of creation. With the Holy Spirit, the Church—all of us—speaks the language of divine love when we are united in heart and mind in the service of the Gospel. We keep His word, and He dwells among us. His spiritual gifts are boundless. 

His gifts are boundless. But are we ready to receive them and put them to their proper use? Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit. . .To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” For some benefit—the benefit of the one who receives the gift and all those for whom the gift will be used. The Holy Spirit does not give private gifts, gifts to be used for one's personal benefit. All gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the benefit of the whole Church and her mission. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body. . .For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. . .we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” One Holy Spirit given to and received by many different parts to make up on Body in Christ. This means that whatever spiritual gifts I might possess, that you might possess, belong to the whole body not just me or you. And b/c our gifts belong to the whole body, our use of them influences the whole body. Good, evil, indifferent. How we use these gifts colors the Church, leaves a mark on the Body of Christ. How we use these gifts determines whether or not we are keeping Christ's word, fulfilling his promise. 

We sang along with the Psalmist, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” If we are to be servants of this renewal, we must also sing, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the body and soul of your Church.” And if we are to be servants of this renewal, we must eagerly step forward and offer ourselves in service to the Gospel. Pope Francis urges us not to become a “baby-sitter” Church. We could add: do not become a museum, a social club, a something-to-do-before-the-Saints-game. If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit is among us, if we truly believe that Christ our Lord is here with us right now, how can we even think about not leaving this place and shouting about the mighty acts of God. How do I think of anything else if I truly believe that the Creator-God of the universe loves me? How do I wake up in the morning and not immediately give Him thanks for the gift of life and my freedom from sin? The renewal of the Church will not come from Rome or D.C. or the archbishop's office. It will come from the pews of St Dominic, Our Lady of the Rosary, from the parish; from your homes, your schools. But it must start with the family. With you. Use the gifts you have been given to renew the body and soul of the Church. Fidelity, strength, perseverance, humility, and above all: love, divine love. You have them all. Put them to work for Christ, keeping his word. Put them to work for the Church, and dwell forever as a mighty act of God. 

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ----->

17 May 2013

How do you love the Shepherd?

7th Week of Easter (F) 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
St. Dominic Church, NOLA 

I always find this reading from John a little embarrassing to read aloud. It's like watching one of the detectives on Law & Order gently lead an otherwise sympathetic criminal to confess his crimes. I don't mean to say that Peter is confessing a crime; it's just that he denied Christ at a crucial moment and now Jesus is giving him a chance to make things right. The whole scene is at once intensely private and hard not to watch. Not only is our Lord gently teaching Peter the meaning of Christian leadership, he is also exercising Peter's heart so that he will be strong enough to endure what's coming. That we read this scene out loud at Mass tells us something about our witness to Christ and what he expects of us as his followers. Imagine you're sitting there with Jesus and Peter. Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” While Peter thinks about his answer, Jesus glances up at you with the same question in his eyes. He's wondering, do you love him? And if you do, how do you love him? As a legendary religious figure? An ancient super-hero? A much beloved uncle or favorite teacher? How we love one another is as important as whether or not we love we love one another. 

It should go without saying that Jesus already knows the answer to his questions. Being the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, etc. makes it hard to imagine that he doesn't. Asking Peter these very intimate questions isn't about getting til now unknown information. Peter needs to hear himself saying, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Peter needs to know that he loves the Lord and that he loves him as his Lord. Not as a friend or a teacher or a favorite uncle. But as the only one who owns his allegiance, the only one who possesses his heart and mind. Peter needs to know all this—and profess all this—b/c Jesus has handed him the keys to the kingdom; that is, Jesus has made Peter his steward on earth, given him the apostolic authority to shepherd God's family on pilgrimage. Tend my sheep; feed my sheep. Take care of these little ones given to me by my Father. And how should the sheep love the shepherd? Not as a friend or a teacher or a favorite uncle. But as one given the authority to keep them safe from the ravening wolves. Just as Peter loves Christ, so the sheep must love Peter. Otherwise, any one of us could find himself alone among those who would just as well see see us lost or even dead. 

So, what does it mean for us to love Peter as Peter loved Christ? Obviously, we're not to love Peter as our lord and savior. Peter loved Christ with a sacrificial love (agape). With agape, we are called upon to love Peter as our shepherd, our protector. Practically speaking, this means that we look to Peter's successor, our Holy Father, Francis, to guide us, to show us the way through this world to Christ. We look to our bishops and their pastoral assistants. And, most immediately, we look to one another. When Jesus prompts Peter to profess his love, Jesus adds, “Tend my sheep. . .feed my sheep.” As Christ's steward, our Holy Father does exactly that when he teaches the apostolic faith and leads the Church in truth. Each one of us tends and feeds the flock when we strengthen one another in truth; build up the body with goodness; and encourage one another in holiness. But we can only tend and feed the flock if we follow the Good Shepherd and listen to his appointed stewards. If you love Christ as your lord and savior, love his flock. Tend and feed one another. We will need strong hearts and minds to endure what the world has in store for us.
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ----->

From terrorist to teen idol

The surviving Boston Marathon Terrorist has become a "teen idol." How?

Defiance of authority — adolescent rebellion against one’s parents — is an immature, selfish and anti-social tendency, and adults in a healthy social recognize it as such. For decades, however, our decadent cultural elite have justified teen rebellion as legitimate. The consequence of indulging defiant youth is a phenomenon Midge Decter analyzed in a 1975 book, Liberal Parents, Radical Children.

Nearly four decades later, many adults in America are so confused about their own values that teenage rebellion manifests itself in ways that are incomprehensible and nihilistic. This is what the 1999 Columbine massacre really should have taught us. If “authority” has nothing more hopeful to offer youth than pep rallies, “popularity,” and the prospect of still more schooling — all the cool kids must go to college — is it really so surprising that some kids become alienated, submerge themselves in violent fantasy and, occasionally, go on murderous rampages?

Say what you will about Jahar Tsarnaev, his motivation was not more irrational than that of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

The inchoate rage of alienated youth expresses itself politically in the perpetual adolescent rebellion of adults who refuse to grow up. What else can we conclude about the anarchistic impulses of the Anonymous hackers and Occupy protesters?

Progressives, willing to accept as legitimate the grievances of any potential allies in their war against The System, organized anti-banking mobs that attracted dangerously violent rapists and other criminals. Once a movement begins to demonize cops — and the Occupiers were as much anti-cop as they were anti-anything else — bad things predictably will happen, including women being raped in tents by smelly hippies.

Read the whole thing. . .but be aware: his language is less than polite at times.

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ----->

16 May 2013

We've returned to the Golden Calf. . .

Addressing four new ambassadors to the Vatican, Pope Francis hits one out of the park!

Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident.

People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in the our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society. 

 Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis. In the denial of the primacy of human beings! We have created new idols. 

The worship of the golden calf of old (cf. Ex 32:15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.

Read the whole thing
Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ----->

We must be saints

NB.  Well, this one was a bust.  Normally, my daily homilies are exactly three pages long.  This one was three plus two lines on a fourth.  When I printed them out, the third page slipped off the printer w/o me seeing it.  Didn't notice until I got to the church. So. . .I had to ad lib the main part.  Oh well.

7th Week of Easter (Th) 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
St. Pius X Church, NOLA 

After praying to his Father for our unity, our witness, our perfection, and expressing his love for us, Jesus says the most incredible thing: “Father, they are your gift to me.” They—the disciples, us, those in the world who will bear witness, those who will see the witness and come to know and be with Christ. They—all of us—are gifts from the Father to His Son. How extraordinary! How extraordinary that Jesus would call us gifts from the Father, freely given creatures, treasured beyond price, loved as the Father loves His Son, freely given to be given freedom. 

It’s not all that unusual for us to think of Jesus as God’s gift to us. We say so at every Mass. He is a gift that we gladly receive, bless, give back to the Father in sacrifice, and receive again as food for holiness. But do you often think of yourself as a gift from God to Jesus? How would your interior life change, your pursuit of holiness be different, if you began each day by praying, “Thank you, Father, for giving me as a gift to Jesus, your Son.”

Jesus’ priestly prayer offers us up to the Father as holy sacrifices, blessed gifts once given to him by the Father. He prays from his sacred heart for our unity in him, for our constant love for one another, and for our growing perfection. Jesus, the High Priest, has told us about the Father, about his love for us, and offered to the Father his prayer that we will love Him as He loves us. Jesus prays for us in this way b/c he knew then that our witness to his life, his teachings, his sufferings, his death, all of it will die if we fail to live abundantly in the Holy Spirit, in the unity that is the love of the Father for His Son. 

Unity in the body of Christ is not the kind of unity that rises out of cultural uniformity or racial/ethnic identity. Our Christian unity is not about political convenience, good P.R., or power. The unity of heart and mind that Christ prays for is an imitation of the relationship that Christ has with His Father. Jesus prays that we will be one together in him in the same way that he and his Father are one. And why could this unity matter at all? Is this is a quaint sentimental moment where Jesus prays a Care Bear poem for his buddies, or a moment of weakness where he opens his heart and shares his feelings? No. The unity of the Body of Christ that imitates the unity of the Father and the Son in the Trinity is the heart of the evangelical project given to us at our baptism. Jesus prays that this unity may be given to us by the Father so “that the world may believe that [the Father] sent me.” Our unity in Christ as believers is proof to the world that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. Our divisions, then, can only be arguments against this revelation, proofs that deny—despite our words to the contrary—proofs that deny Jesus is Lord. 

So, how do we begin to bring the unity Christ prays for into being? We look to the one thing we know—w/o a doubt—that we all share, all of us, that is, all human persons not just Christians: we are given to Christ as a gift from the Father. Obviously, non-Christians aren't going to think this way. If they did, they would be Christians! However, this is no reason for the followers of Christ to ignore this extraordinary revelation. In fact, that all of God's human children are gifts to His Son should be one of the foundation stones of the New Evangelization. Imagine living your life as a gift to Christ. If you are a gift to Christ, then everything you say and do is also a gift. What would it look like to live everyday knowing that everything you say and do is laid before the Son in heaven as a gift? With that kind of evidence, 1.2 billion Catholics could build a good case for following Christ in no time! Here's the good news and the bad news: as gifts given to the Son by the Father, everything we say and do is laid before the Christ in heaven. Do our words and deeds bear witness to God's mercy? Are our lives a credible testimony to the sacrifice Christ made for us? 

We must be saints. Not extraordinary Christians. Just ordinary men and women who love Christ.

Papal Catholicity Update

Is the Pope still Catholic?

Let's see. . .

Liberation theologians extol him, but between him and them there is a chasm. The progressives enlist him, but he keeps himself far from them. The true Francis is very different from the one that some imagine.

[. . .]

In reality, there is a chasm between the vision of the Latin American liberation theologians and the vision of this Argentine pope.

[. . .]

He knows liberation theology well, he saw it emerge and spread among his Jesuit confrères as well, but he always registered his disagreement with it, even at the cost of finding himself isolated. 

[. . .]

In Bergoglio's judgment, the Latin American continent has already won a “middle-class” spot in the world order, and is destined to have an even greater influence in future scenarios, but is being undermined in that which is most his own, the faith and “Catholic wisdom” of its people.

He sees the most terrible threat in what he calls “adolescent progressivism,” an enthusiasm for progress that in reality backfires - he says - against peoples and nations, against their Catholic identity, “in close relationship with a conception of the state that is to a large extent a militant secularism.”

Last Sunday he broke a lance for the legal protection of the embryo in Europe. In Buenos Aires his tenacious opposition against the laws for free abortion and “gay” marriage is not forgotten. In the spread of similar laws all over the world, he sees the offensive of “an imperialist conception of globalization,” which “constitutes the most dangerous totalitarianism of postmodernity.”

[. . .]

Yup. The Pope is still Catholic.

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ----->

15 May 2013

Your word is Truth

7th Week of Easter (W) 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
St. Dominic Church, NOLA 

If Truth were a commodity—like cotton or oil—its stock value would be very low these days. With the exception of the Church, no one seems to care much about what's true or false, what's fact and fiction. We are far more likely to hear that truth is a tool in the oppressor's arsenal; or that truth is a traditional fiction dreamed up by neurotics; or that truth, at best, depends on one's perspective. You have your truth. I have my truth. Who's to say what's true or false? It just depends. Rather than ask if a bit of information is true or false, we're told to ask, “Who does this information benefit? Who does it harm?” Rather than seek the truth, we are urged to “create a narrative,” or “construct a perception.” When did this sort of deception creep into our world? Sometime right after God told Adam and Eve to avoid eating the fruit of one particular tree, the world's first salesman convinced them that God was lying to them. Several centuries later, that salesman's political partner asks Jesus, “What is Truth?” And then washes his hands of Jesus' death. But before he is arrested and executed, Jesus prays to the Father, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.” Assuming the Father answered this prayer by fulfilling Jesus' petition, what changed? How are we different? 

 When something is consecrated it is set apart for some special use and only that use. Chalices are consecrated for use at Mass. Churches are consecrated for public worship. We don't use a chalice to swig beer nor do we use a church to host a crawfish boil. When a person is consecrated something similar happens. That person is set apart for some special task and only for that task. Monks and nuns come to mind. They are consecrated to a life of prayer. Dominican friars are consecrated to a life of preaching. And all baptized Christians are set apart to give public witness to the Gospel. So when Jesus asks the Father to consecrate us in the truth, what is he asking? It seems that he's asking God to set us aside in the truth; that is, to move us over into the truth in some special way, to preserve us for some special task that requires that we be in the truth. Now that awful question rises again, “What is the Truth?” Jesus answers, “Your word is truth.” God's word is truth. God's promises are truth itself. All that God has spoken through the Law, the Prophets, and through the Word made flesh is truth. All that God has revealed to us through scripture, creation, and His Christ is truth. Jesus is asking his Father to set us apart to live in His truth while we reside in the world. 

 Jesus' petition for our consecration is bracketed by two statements: “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world” and “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.” Because we belong to Christ, we cannot belong to the world. However, Jesus says that he sends us into the world as he himself was sent. Therefore, we must be consecrated in the truth, set apart in God's word so that we can bear witness to His mercy in a world to which we do no belong. Jesus says, “I gave them your word, and the world hates them. . .” Of course it does! The world loves violence, spite, revenge, falsehood, and death. God's word shines the glaring light of truth on the world's most fundamental spiritual darkness: the pride of a creature that has rejected the rule of its Creator. We are set apart in God's word to announce the Good News of His mercy. We are not set apart so that we can pretend to be politically infallible, or economically incorruptible, or scientifically inerrant. We are set apart in the death and resurrection of Christ as that we might be witnesses, givers of testimony to the word we have received: this world will pass, God's truth will not. His truth endures forever, and so do all those who receive His truth and announce His Good News.

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ---->

13 May 2013

Brave New World

The Laptop arrived today!    Deo gratis! [with apologies to the ever-vigilant Latinists]

It uses Windows 8. . .and this means it will take me three days to figure out what I'm doing.

Off tomorrow. . .but all will be back to normal on Wednesday.

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ---->

12 May 2013

Why are you standing there looking at the sky?

NB. Deacons preaching this Sunday.  Here's an Ascension homily from 2006:

The Ascension of the Lord (C)
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation and St. Paul Hospital Chapel

No one will accuse Paul of being a fuzzy dreamer. He is not known for his abstract idealism. Later on in his letter to the Ephesians, he exhorts the new Christians of Ephesus: “I plead with you, as a prisoner of the Lord, to live a life worthy of the calling you have received, with perfect humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another lovingly…” Pretty words. Beautiful sentiment. But highly impractical, if not dangerous, for the Church! Besides, who can achieve this level of perfection now? Who can walk such a narrow path so confidently? Clearly, Paul is wishing out loud here, or at best he’s violating our image of him and exercising a bit of his never before seen idealism. He’s just setting the bar for us, calibrating the ideal soul for us to look to for guidance as we struggle along. And it’s not really clear how we are to achieve this perfect humility, meekness, and patience. What does he have to say about method or technique or first principles? It’s one thing, dear Paul, to show us an end, a goal. It’s quite another to teach us the means to that goal! Show us how. . .

And Paul would say here: “Oy vey! Have you been paying attention the last couple of months? Have you been listening to the readings, the prayers of the Church? Have you noticed the sequence of events since we entered the desert with Christ forty days before he suffered and died for us?” And we might respond: “Well, Paul, we’ve been paying attention…kinda, sorta. We’ve had Lent and Good Friday and Easter…lots and lots of Easter…weeks and weeks of Easter! But you’re avoiding our question. What do the readings and prayers of the Mass, the sequence of events since the desert have to do with your crazy dream that we live lives of perfect humility, meekness, etc., etc.?” At this point, we might imagine poor Paul hanging his head, but being the excellent teacher that he is, he asks instead: “Who have you been these last few months? Who are you becoming? And who will you be at last?” Uh?! we say. That’s right: who have you been? Who are you becoming? And who will you be at last?
In a homily on Ascension Sunday, Augustine asked his congregation: “Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now…?” He goes on: “While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth we are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.” How? Why was the Son made flesh? Why did he become sin for us? Why did he suffer and die? To make good theatre? To fulfill some mythical Jewish prophecy? Entertainment for a cruel god? How can we down here be up there with Christ in love? Who have you been? Who are you becoming? And who will you be at last?
Let’s remember where we are in our history: the Holy Spirit announces to Mary that she will bear the Word into the world. She says, “Yes.” Elizabeth bears the Christ’s herald, John, and he is born to call our hearts to attention. Jesus is born. He is presented to the Father in the temple as the first fruit of Mary and Joseph. He is baptized by his herald and the Father declares him to be the Christ. He chooses his students. He teaches them his gospel. He preaches and heals; he feeds and frees; he shakes the foundation stones and breaks the temple gates. He draws hungry souls and repels the self-righteous. He casts out demons and forgives sinners. He goes to the mountain, the river, the sea, and the desert. And there he is given the chance to abandon us, to leave us to our humane mess. Without bending his back or lifting a finger, he picks up his cross, saying, “Yes” to his Father’s will for him and for us all. Lent. On a donkey he rides like a king into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday. There he is betrayed, tried, betrayed again, abandoned, whipped, ridiculed, spiked to a cross, mocked as he bleeds, and dies. He is buried. Holy Week and Triduum. And Mary Magdalene finds his grave empty three days later. He is risen from the dead. Easter morning. Knowing his disciples are fretful, he finds a few of them on the road to Emmaus and reveals himself again, spending forty days with them. Blessing them a final time, he is taken up; he ascends into heaven so that all of us may be lifted up with him. But for now, we wait until the promised Spirit descends! And the church is born. Born once of Mary. Born again from the Spirit. And yet again—now—from the womb of your YES. Christ’s body is born.

In case you’ve forgotten: who have you been since Ash Wednesday? Who are you becoming? And who will you be at last?
Perfect humility, meekness, and patience. In his letter to the Ephesians this morning, Paul bestows a blessing. We receive from God the Father: wisdom and revelation; knowledge of Jesus the Christ; eyes and hearts enlightened to see and know his hope, the wealth of His glory; to share in the inheritance of the holy ones, the exceeding greatness and generosity of His power for all who believe. And here is what the Spirit says that we need to hear in this blessing right now: Jesus is ascended into heaven to take his place of honor with the Father; he is given a place above “every principality, authority, power, dominion and every name that is named” in all ages past, this age, and in every age to come. And in rising to the Father, the Father has “put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the Church, which is his body…” Perfect humility, meekness, and patience then are not passive virtues that leave us vulnerable in the world. They are habits of being that rise out of the rule of Christ in our lives. Does true strength need to exercise its muscle? Does true power need to show itself in action? Does true authority balk at being patient? No. Perfect humility, meekness, and patience mark us as belonging to Christ. As his slaves, we live his life and die his death and rise in his resurrection and we ascend, we ascend as his Body—one promise, one blessing, one Spirit—living, dying, rising, ascending in Christ, with Christ, as Christ.
Ah! There it is. There it is. As Christ. That’s the “how” of Paul’s dreaming and Augustine’s wonder. Let’s see: who have you been? Christ. Who are you becoming? Christ. And who will you be at last? Christ. Christ is your past, your present, and your future. Christ is who you have been all along; are right now; and will be when all of this is done. When you rejoice, your joy is Christ. When you suffer, your pain is Christ. When you fall, your bruises are Christ. When you stand again, your height, your dignity is Christ. And when you accept the Spirit of Love, your Word, your deed, every breath, every motion, every stir of air and eddy of scent is Christ. His ascension into heaven draws us up. His Body, all of us, his Body is drawn up and, on our way there, we are pulled into his worship, his joy, and we drink from his blessing cup for our healing and health.
Why are we looking at the sky? Christ has ascended to the Father and now, for now, we wait. We know that God loves us to change us. We know that we are transfigured in His love. The New You waits for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He is risen! And as Christ so will we all be raised.

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe and DONATE! ----->