May 8, 2016: Ascension of the Lord Sunday
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
“Solidarity highlights in a particular way the intrinsic social nature of the human person, the equality of all in dignity and rights and the common path of individuals and peoples towards an ever more committed unity. . . . Solidarity must be seen above all in its value as a moral virtue that determines the order of institutions. On the basis of this principle the “structures of sin” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, nos. 36, 37) that dominate relationships between individuals and peoples must be overcome.” Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, nos. 192-193 From Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, p. 24. USCCB, 2015
First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
Psalm: 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23
Gospel: Luke 24:46-53
Catechism of the Catholic Church
This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus. “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.” Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us. (661)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Ascension of the Lord Sunday, Cycle C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Matthew 28_19-20 Gospel Acclamation and Luke 24:46-49
God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person but also the social relations existing between men. As the Apostle Paul teaches, life in Christ makes the human person’s identity and social sense — with their concrete consequences on the historical and social planes — emerge fully and in a new manner: “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ” (Gal 3:26-28). In this perspective, Church communities, brought together by the message of Jesus Christ and gathered in the Holy Spirit round the Risen Lord (cf. Mt 18:20, 28:19-20; Lk 24:46-49), offer themselves as places of communion, witness and mission, and as catalysts for the redemption and transformation of social relationships. (52)
Faith in Jesus Christ makes it possible to have a correct understanding of social development, in the context of an integral and solidary humanism. In this regard, the contribution of theological reflection offered by the Church’s social Magisterium is very useful: “Faith in Christ the Redeemer, while it illuminates from within the nature of development, also guides us in the task of collaboration. In the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians, we read that Christ is ‘the firstborn of all creation,’ and that ‘all things were created through him’ and for him (Col 1:15-16). In fact, ‘all things hold together in him’, since ‘in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things’ (v. 20). A part of this divine plan, culminates in him, ‘the firstborn from the dead’ (v. 15-18), in our own history, marked by our personal and collective effort to raise up the human condition and to overcome the obstacles which are continually arising along our way. It thus prepares us to share in the fullness which ‘dwells in the Lord’ and which he communicates ‘to his body, which is the Church’ (v. 18; cf. Eph 1:22-23). At the same time sin, which is always attempting to trap us and which jeopardizes our human achievements, is conquered and redeemed by the ‘reconciliation’ accomplished by Christ (cf. Col 1:20)”. (327)
The salvation offered by God to his children requires their free response and acceptance.It is in this that faith consists, and it is through this that “man freely commits his entire self to God”, responding to God’s prior and superabundant love (cf. 1 Jn 4:10) with concrete love for his brothers and sisters, and with steadfast hope because “he who promised is faithful” (Heb 10:23). In fact, the divine plan of salvation does not consign human creatures to a state of mere passivity or of lesser status in relation to their Creator, because their relationship to God, whom Jesus Christ reveals to us and in whom he freely makes us sharers by the working of the Holy Spirit, is that of a child to its parent: the very relationship that Jesus lives with the Father (cf. Jn 15-17; Gal 4:6-7). (39)
From the humbleness of the stable to countryside of Bethany, Jesus journeyed in obscurity and prominence, in solitude and with crowds, on foot and by boat, with festivity and agony. A journey entwined with the Father’s love. A catalyst for spiritual transformation through communion, witness and mission. Will we stand in awe, looking into the heavens, like the apostles, dazed with a passive faith, putting on spiritual sunglasses to dull the radiance? Or do we let the power of Jesus’ sacrifice, towards a new and living way He opened up for us, enlighten the eyes of our heart in absolute trust to live as disciples in lands of hospitality, familiarity or questioning despair, close at hand or opposite latitudes? A faith relevant in our age and the ages of those to come until Jesus returns. A universal message to all people, irrespective of gender, ethnicity or age, of every place to withhold the hope of the promise and the call of discipleship from no one. As Jesus reminded the apostles before imparting His final earthy blessing to them, He reminds us today at every sacrifice on the altar, through His death and resurrection we are forgiven people. Do we believe in that forgiveness and live with that freedom, holding on to no burdens? How do we proclaim that forgiveness, as the Body of Christ, socially and individually by imparting pardon for the transformation of individual lives and collective social relationships by letting gaping holes fill with mercy to form bridges where ravines separated? With great joy, may we live as Jesus’ disciples, may our lives be a witness of praise and as Jesus reached out in love to everyone, may the Body of Christ, His Church, animated by the Holy Spirit live with the forgiveness that has been imparted.
Individual Reflection: Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
How can you joyfully celebrate people that have mothered, nurtured a cause of hope, healing and forgiveness in your community?
Family Reflection: Acts 1:1-11
Learn about the early history of Mother’s Day. A celebration during Lent when people returned to their mother church, a healing of reconciliation caused by divisions during the Civil War and a call for peace were early focuses. How might Mother’s Day in your family be celebrated with less consumerism this year and reflect earlier Mother’s Day traditions?
Jesus, your ascension to the promise of the Father gives us hope in ascending to our eternal home. Your ascension gives us hope that you trust us to be your disciples. We praise you for the blessings of this journey, the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us. Help us to see this hope is for all people and to live our faith with inclusiveness and the spirit of forgiveness you endowed on us. In your dear name Jesus, we pray. Amen
Blogs to Visit:
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List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born May 8, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.