HOMILY – MAY 28
“Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ rules. May he defend his people from all evil.” Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) had these words engraved on the obelisk which stands in the center of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. These words are also sung as part of the sign-off of the Vatican radio station each evening. “Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ rules. May he defend his people from all evil.” These triumphant words are in the present tense, not in the past. They indicate that Christ’s triumph is always taking place. That triumph of love is brought about in and by the Eucharist.
Did you ever think of yourself as part of the fullness of Christ, Christ who fills all things in every way? You are part of the Church. Listen again to what the Apostle says in the Letter to the Ephesians in the second reading:
“The God of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .
put all things beneath his feet
and gave him as head over all things
to the Church, which is his body,
the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”
If you are part of the Church, you are part of Christ’s body, and thus part of the fullness of Christ, who fills all things in every way. This is no feather in your cap or medal on your chest. It’s all Christ’s choice. He is extending his Kingdom, his Reign, through YOU to reach out to all the world. Are you letting him do that? Are you cooperating?
In one respect, it’s easier to do what the Apostles did at first. Jesus ascends into heaven, and they stand there, looking up. Angels have to appear to tell them, in effect, “Jesus has gone to heaven, where he belongs, where he promised to prepare a place for you. YOUR job is to get out there and tell everybody about that. And it’s not going to happen if you just stand here looking up to heaven. SO GET BACK TO WORK!!” I remember years ago, a very devout and pious seminarian was dismissed from the seminary. His fellow students had thought of him as a model seminarian, never breaking a rule, spending all his free time praying in chapel. A couple of his schoolmates were so puzzled at his dismissal that they finally dared to ask one of the professors about it. His answer was a simple one: “Boys, let’s just say that some people are so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good!”
We, the members of the Church, are called to be both: heavenly-minded AND earthly good. If you consider yourself a practicing Catholic, that’s exactly what you’re practicing: keeping the balance between being heavenly-minded and being earthly good. Remember that Jesus himself said there were, not one, but TWO great commandments: love of God AND love of neighbor. They go hand-in-hand, and you cannot have one without the other. We spend our whole lives PRACTICING NOT NEGLECTING the one or the other. This is one of the great lessons of the Ascension of Our Lord. It’s important to remember where Jesus has gone, and where our true home is. But that’s NEVER an excuse for taking our eyes off THIS world, with all its challenges, problems, and temptations. That’s our work here on earth, all in Jesus’ name, and for the Father’s glory.
Whenever we strive to be the image of our Creator, whenever we strive to be his Word in the flesh, whenever we reach out in humble service to a brother or sister as we would to Christ himself, we are extending his reign. We don’t have to erect a sign or a monument. We just have to fill the world with acts of his love. You’ll never do it alone, and you’ll never finish. That’s why there’s many of us, and why we pass the faith on. So, like the angels told the Apostles: “GET BACK TO WORK!!” And do it with love. Faithfulness to the Eucharist will keep us on track. Here, we will recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread so we know it’s HIM we’re passing on, not just ourselves.