Fr. Jolly’s Homily for Sunday, June 2, 2019

Ascension of the Lord- C

Christ has died …… Christ is risen ……… Christ will come again. … He is ascended into Heaven and seated at the right hand of God the father, He shall come again to Judge the living and the dead. These words have been on the lips of believers for almost 2000 years. If Christ will come again, where is he now? He is in Heaven. He will judge the living and the dead. Judging for what- sending us to our destinations in life!

These are days of graduation. I have a grandnephew graduating kindergarten and a nice and a nephew graduating from high school. I have another nephew graduating from college. The question we ask them is ‘where are you headed’? Where are you headed? Are you going into the work force or college or tech school? Are you staying at home or striking out on your own? Where are you headed? This is a question not only for the graduates but also for every Christian: Where are you headed? If you are good Christian you had been pondering about this question for quite some time.

On the feat of the Ascension of our Lord, when we remember about Jesus going up to heaven and taking His seat at the right hand of the Father, my question to you: Where are you headed? But I’m not asking you about this summer or next fall. I’m not asking about your career down the road or family plans. Where you are ultimately headed? For people, there are only two final destinations: Heaven or hell. No matter what you believe, no matter what kind of religious principle or spirituality you practice, no matter what kind of profession you do, no matter what age you are in, no matter what nationality you are, no matter how rich or poor you are, you will someday end up in one of these two places.

To go to heaven what are the things we need to do as followers of Jesus? One time I asked a congregation, how many of you want to go to heaven? Everybody raised their hands! I then asked them, how many of you want to be a saint. Only very few people raised their hands. The truth is that only saints can go to heaven. Therefore as Christians, we should be satisfied with nothing less than being a saint.

I have a friend who was a navy Pilate. After retiring from the navy he worked for FedEx and then retired for two years now. He said, I spend a lot of time up in the heavens and I spend a lot of time thinking about heaven and hell. After retiring, now that has been the matter of my meditation all day long.  “Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am – in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement – I ask myself ‘What am I here after?’ “One thing I ask of the Lord “I want to dwell in the house of the lord all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4).  A lot of us just don’t think much about heaven. If I were to take a survey asking the question, “Have you thought seriously about heaven in the last week?” I doubt I would get many positive responses. The fact is we can watch television for a whole year, read the newspaper day after day, engage in conversations with people all over the world, and not hear a word about the hereafter!

Where you wind up depends on which road you take! In other words, you cannot take I 40 and go east and expect to go to Little Rock or go I 40 west and expect to get to Nashville. I realize you could do this if you were to circumnavigate the globe, but using the roads which are in place now, it would be absolutely impossible for you to do that! Just as this is true in the physical realm, it is also true in the spiritual realm. Where would you end up eternally, if you are going like this? If you are 100% certain that you are on the right track, then I encourage you to keep on going. If you are not 100% certain, then I encourage you to reconsider and change direction

Let’s therefore listen to the words of St. Paul (Romans 12 1-2) I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. After rising from the dead, Jesus spent the next 40 days preparing the disciples for their life as apostles. During these 40 days, Jesus prepared the Apostles shift their agenda to His agenda. He helped them to get rid of their agendas, political (restore the Kingdom of Israel.) or personal (self-preservation and/or personal prestige) He replaced their agendas for Him, with His agenda for them. How about us? How about you?

I don’t think you would find one person in Hell who deliberately planned to go there, but each waited too late and died without straightening their lives preparing themselves to go to heaven. If I ask you today- are you confident that you would go to heaven- some of you would say yes, some others would say not sure or I don’t think so. If you don’t think or not sure- why don’t you start planning and preparing today! Then some would say “Not today.” And before I could ask, “Why not today?” Satan would have already given you a playful excuse, like “I don’t want to be a hypocrite” or “I am afraid I can’t live it” or “I don’t have the right feeling.”

St. James in his letter 4/ 13-14 gives Warning against Presumption. Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”—you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.  Colossians 3 1-5 says  “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

 

Quo vadis? It is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?” The modern usage of the phrase refers to a Christian tradition regarding Saint Peter according to the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV, a holy writings not forming part of the accepted canon of Scripture. In the story Simon Peter is fleeing from a likely crucifixion in Rome at the hands of the government, and along the road outside the city he meets the Risen Jesus. Peter asks Jesus “Quo vadis?“, to which He replies, “Romam vado iterum crucifigi.” (“I am going to Rome to be crucified again”). Peter thereby gains the courage to continue his ministry and returns to the city, to eventually be martyred by being crucified upside-down.

On the feast of ascension, the Lord is asking you an important question “Where will you end up?” Please allow the Lord to speak to your heart. You may not like His message, but you need to know where you are going when you leave this world. If you are Christian, that is more important than anything else. My prayer is that each and every one of you will be able to answer this question before you leave this room today.