Liturgy

The 50-day season of Easter continues until the feast of Pentecost, in mid-May.

'GOOD NEWS' for Feast of Ascension

"While blessing them, he was taken to heaven." (Luke 24:46-53)

The reflection is from Fr Richard Leonard's homily on this Sunday's gospel and is printed here, with kind permission. Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting, is a member of the Australian Catholic Media Council and is author of Preaching to the Converted, Paulist Press, New York, 2006.

A teacher told me recently that when she asked her grade fours to draw a picture of the Ascension, not unsurprisingly most of them did a fairly conventional portrait of Jesus rising up on a cloud. One of her students, David, who is a particularly gifted artist, had Jesus blasting off into the sky. Down the side of Jesus' pure white garment was the word NASA and David provided all the sound effects for how he imagined the scene of the first Ascension. He concluded, without a hint of irony, that, 'the Ascension must have been a real blast!'

None of us can blame David for marrying our modern culture with an ancient story. In fact if some of us are honest, David's 'space shuttle Jesus' is not far from what we think as well.

The Ascension stories, however, are not primarily interested in how or when Jesus got back to heaven. John and Paul never mention it at all. Mark and Matthew have it happening on the same day as the Resurrection and Luke has it occurring 40 days after Easter on the same day as Pentecost. The one thing, on which all the New Testament writers agree, is where in heaven Jesus went and where he is presently - at God's right hand.

Even to this day, being on someone's right is a place of honour. In the Old Testament being on the right hand of David, Samuel or Elijah was to be the anointed and favoured one, the true son or daughter. In telling us, then, that Jesus is now at God's right hand, the Gospels use a formal phrase to announce that God affirms everything Jesus said and did on earth and that he is the way for us to follow.

That can be all well and good, but Jesus goes one step further and that's why this feast is so important. Jesus taught us that where he is, so shall we be, that he was going to prepare a place for us and that, in and through him, we will have life and have it to the full.

The feast of the Ascension is the day, each year, where we remember and we celebrate that, just as Jesus was welcomed to God's right hand, so, too, shall we be welcomed to the right hand of Jesus. This is his promise, this is our faith and this is the hope we are called to proclaim to the world. And let's be clear about the invitation. There is nothing we have ever done, are doing, or will do, that will get our name removed from the invitation list to the feast of Christ's kingdom. The challenge is accepting that we have a standing invitation and living lives worthy of the love that places our name on the list. The feast of the Ascension announces that Jesus will faithfully accompany us no matter how far we lose our way and that by our fidelity to Christ we accept or reject the standing offer.

And because the Ascension is an Easter feast it develops even further that there is nowhere, bar evil, where God does not dwell. Because of the Resurrection and Ascension we can find God everywhere we want to: in our homes, our work, our suffering, our old age, our emotional, sexual or financial turmoil - and even in our death.

Even though the writers of the New Testament are not too clear on the details of how the Ascension happened, what we initially see in this wonderful feast is not what we get. Thanks be to God, it's so much more.

© Richard Leonard SJ

Fr Richard will Present "the World in Our Face: Faith, Young Adults and the Australian Media Culture" at the College next Thursday night. Refer to attached flyer for more information.

SACRAMENT PROGRAM

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Next Sunday, on the feast of Pentecost, a number of our Year 6 students will be confirmed in their parish celebrations with their families. We will include their names next week. In the meantime we remember the students and their families in our prayer as they prepare for this special celebration.

Image: Emmaus Productions

COMMUNITY LITURGY

The College welcomes all to our weekly celebration of the Eucharist - you do not have to be a 'regular'. For those new to Mass, it is 'user-friendly' and, thanks to our own Chapel Choir, is joyous and beautiful. The celebration continues with coffee in the Café, for those able to stay, and all are invited!

When: Fridays in Term Time
Time: 8:00-8:30am
Where: College Chapel