Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One Direction, Climbing a Ladder in Church, Ascension Homily

Ladder - Ascension Homily

I heard recently from my nieces that the band One Direction lost one of their band members. I don't know if any of you have heard of the band One Direction, but the younger kids probably know it. One of their members is now gone from the band. So five is down to four. I have to say, it is blowing up all over Twitter. The teenage girls are having a very difficult time with this. They are very upset that he has left the band. Their world is never going to be the same.

Now, I joke about that, but some of you may remember when The Beatles were breaking up, right, and John Lennon was leaving The Beatles. That was such a huge thing. That was before my time, by the way. But it was such a huge thing; that The Beatles are broken up! In my day, it was New Kids on the Block the girls loved, and NSYNC for my younger siblings. We have all had the experience of a band we love and when someone leaves the band. All of a sudden everything changes and it is such a difficult thing for us to experience.

I know we are experiencing that here at St. Joe's right now. Father Martello is retiring. By the way, keep him in your prayers. He went to the Emergency Room again last night. He now has an infection in his foot. His cast had to be removed again. So keep him in your prayers. I may be leaving in June, so I don't know what is going on in my world. We have this feeling now of interruption, of having this feeling that the band was together for a little while, and now they are breaking up.

The disciples must have felt something like this with The Ascension. Jesus had been with them in The Resurrection for 40 days and 40 nights. He was working miracles. He was appearing before them. He was eating with them. Then all of a sudden, He tells them, "Hey, guys, I've got to go to My Father." Then they have this happen, where they experience The Ascension of Him going up into heaven.

I was trying to think about that. Then the image that came to my mind was that of a ladder. When I was in high school, I used to do roofing. I got to climb those really big ladders that you mount on the roofs in the summer. That is the image I want to use.

If the servers can help me out. I brought my dad's roofing ladder here. If you remember in one of my earlier homilies, my dad has all of his tools labeled. This one is labeled "Denk" by the way. It is my father's ladder.

Can you get the door for me?

I am going to need a couple of spotters. Maybe the Kelly family. Maybe you two guys can help me. I don't want to fall. We don't need two of us in the hospital, right? Can you hold that for me? Thanks.

Do you guys like me?

The idea that we have of The Ascension is that Jesus is going into heaven and He is kind of leaving us behind.

Well, it is higher than I thought!

He is kind of leaving us behind. He is going to ascend into heaven. It is like we have this image that as He goes, the band is breaking up, right? He leaves His disciples. It is like He is saying, "Okay, guys, I'm going to heaven to be with My Father. You take care of the Earth. I'll see you when you get here." That is kind of the image that we have of The Ascension, of Jesus ascending into heaven and climbing this ladder and leaving us behind. But it is actually not like that at all. So I am actually going to do something a little different with the ladder.

Hold it while I come down.

Now, how about if you guys take this ladder and lay it from the first pew to the sanctuary by your family. You are strong guys. Yeah, you can put it right on top of the first pew and then bring the other end right over here. You can lay it down. I don't think I need your spotting here. Maybe I do. I don't know.

Here is the image of The Ascension now. Instead of it being a vertical ascension that we hear in the opening prayer, and we will hear in the preface right before the Communion. It is almost like a parallel ascension where Jesus is the head and we're the body, and the head goes first into heaven but the body follows.

In The Ascension, actually, he is not going away from us, but he is taking us with Him into heaven. This is actually a more accurate portrayal of The Ascension. It is Jesus walking not vertically, but horizontally. The best thing is He leaves the ladder there when The Ascension happens. He doesn't take it away. He is still connected to us.

I know some of you are grieving the loss of a loved one. There is a beautiful line in the funeral liturgy that when our loved ones have gone before us, when they have gone to heaven, life has changed, not ended. They continue to be connected with us.

In The Ascension, when Jesus goes to be in heaven, He actually brings heaven and Earth together. They are not separated. He brings heaven and Earth together as one. That is the mystery we experience in The Ascension.

The ladder is there for you; all of you. Right now, you can experience heaven.

Anyone want to do the ladder? Come on up. You can do it. No, let your little sister do it. But, Jacob, you could spot her.

Just think of The Ascension as we are connected into heaven. She's not going to do it. You could do it. Yeah, you could do it. Why don't you spot him.

Imagine I am Christ. This is heaven. This is Earth. The two are joined.

He is taller than I am. It is harder. And you're like, come on it. Thank you. Go ahead, sit down.

That is the reality of The Ascension. When Jesus was ascended into heaven, he not only went to heaven Himself, but He brought all of Earth, all of creation with Him, where the head went first, the body follows, and hopes.

The reality is that the mystery that He reveals to us in The Ascension is that heaven and Earth are joined. We say this every time we pray the "Our Father." "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done." As we do His will together here on Earth, heaven and Earth are brought together.

Just remember that any time you are anxious about losing someone, or being distant from God, or being distant from one of your priests, or being distant from someone you love that has gone to heaven, the reality is, heaven is not up here and Earth is down there. The reality is heaven and Earth are joined.

In The Ascension, when Jesus goes first, He brings all of us with Him. So may we truly celebrate and then believe this great gift we have in The Ascension. As we believe in Jesus and that He has ascended into heaven, that he brings Earth with Him. Then heaven and Earth are joined.​

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