I’ve always been fascinated with jugglers – folks who could take multiple objects and toss them into the air with such rhythm and beauty and dexterity and not drop them.
I remember watching them on black and white TV on Sunday nights on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Now if that last sentence was incomprehensible to you, go to YouTube and search The Ed Sullivan Show. I did. Great memories. Anyway…
Juggling, that’s what I feel I am trying to do today with our readings, our solemnity of the Ascension and our national holiday of Mother’s Day.
Curious, I went to Siri and asked about the origins of Mother’s Day and here’s what I found on the web.
A woman by the name of Ann Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in 1908 at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. She wanted to honor her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis who died in 1905 for her work as a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. By the 1920’s Hallmark and other companies began selling Mother’s Day cards and the industry has only become more robust, and dare I say, more sappy?
Show of hands, how many of your bought Mother’s Day cards? How many of you are planning something special for Mother’s Day? Thanks. I am glad you are doing this. Make it special. Your mom deserves this.
So here we are juggling all the events of Mother’s Day, going to Mass being one of them, and now we add another thing to juggle.
Another show of hands – how many of you bought and/or sent Ascension Day cards? How many of you put up Ascension Day decorations or colored Ascension Day eggs?
Sounds a bit silly doesn’t it? Yet there is truth in the fact that this solemnity can easily pass us by without really understanding its importance in our faith and our daily lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.
For forty days after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles and his disciples showing them that he was alive. He also sought to explain to them the meaning and purpose of his death and resurrection.
His plan all along was to return to his Father and then send the Holy Spirit to animate this new group of followers into what would become the Church, his Body here on earth, that would fulfill his plan of salvation.
Therefore, I offer two words to help us focus on the meaning of the Ascension as we look forward to Pentecost next Sunday. They are from today’s gospel: GO and WENT.
“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
“They went forth and preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them.”
That is what this feast is about – going forth from Mass every Sunday, renewed in Word and Sacrament and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, being disciples of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
What does that practically mean in our everyday lives? Ah, another thing to juggle. Here goes…
It means, that like the first disciples, we are invited to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and in prayer that transforms how we see, judge and act in our lives; an encounter with the risen Christ that changes us.
If this has not happened to you, pray daily for this encounter. If it has happened and you’ve grown distant from it or disenchanted by it, pray for a renewal of this gift. Get on your knees daily and beg the Lord Jesus to come into your heart.
If you are longing for something “more” in your spiritual life, pray a Pentecost novena this week. There are many different novenas on Catholic websites.
Or, simply pray many times a day, “Come Holy Spirit.” “Come into my heart.” “Come into my mind, my soul.” “Come Holy Spirit and penetrate every fiber of my being.”
Invite the Holy Spirit in and beg the Holy Spirit to lead you to Jesus.
Now for the last element of our juggling homily is the prayer of St. Paul for the Ephesians and for us from the second reading.
“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
“May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened that you may know the hope that belongs to his call…
“What are the riches of glory in his inheritance…
“What is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe.”
This is the promise of those who seek, who believe and who strive to live the meaning of the Ascension.
We won’t find the deepest meaning of our existence or the fulfillment of the deepest yearning of our hearts from today’s world or culture. We will always be disappointed come away incomplete.
Seeking satisfaction in what is passing only leaves us thirstier for what is true, good and the beautiful.
Instead, yearn for Jesus as much as the apostles yearned as they stood there staring into the sky.
Yearn for Jesus more than your mother could ever yearn for you to be the very best that you could be.
Yearn to be on fire with the Holy Spirit so that your life overflows with joy and meaning and peace that attracts others to your love for Jesus.
Yearn for a heart that longs for every person whom we know that they experience an encounter with Jesus Christ and come to his Church, “which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”
Jesus said, “Go,” and they went. Will we?
A blessed Ascension Day and Happy Mother’s Day.