The Ascension of the Lord, May 16 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
We have only one week left until the end of the Easter season. This Sunday, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord as we read the Gospel passage in which Christ commissions his disciples to “go into all the world…”
“In their different ways, all the gospel writers want us to appreciate the threshold moment of Jesus’s exaltation into heaven. Luke ends his gospel with one account of the ascension of Jesus happening on the evening of Easter day, and begins the second part of his good news, the Acts of the Apostles, with another account forty days later. Perhaps Luke is using these two accounts to stitch together the farewell reality of Jesus in his glorified humanity (Luke 24:50-53) and the mission of the church, his Body, which in his Spirit must continue his presence and work in the world (Acts 1:9-11). Luke addresses the Acts of the Apostles to “Theophilus” (“Lover of God”), perhaps a patron of the early Christian community. Gathered today around the Word, we are also the intended readers, all called to be “lovers of God.”
Mark narrates that Jesus is risen. He has appeared to his followers during forty days – a biblical number symbolic of both fullness and transition – and has instructed them about the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. He explains this coming in baptismal terms. Water had been the baptismal medium of the Baptist, but this new baptism will be in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So the disciples wait for this unimagined and unimaginable outpouring, still captive to curiosity about times, dates, the possible relationship of Israel to the kingdom about which Jesus has so often spoken, and an implied hankering for knowledge of their own positions in this kingdom. Jesus deflects their desire for such answers into a concern for mission – the witness to him that the disciples will be called and empowered to give beyond Jerusalem, beyond Judaea and Samaria, to the very ends of the earth. The disciples are still a wounded community, wounded by Judas’s treachery, by Peter’s betrayal, and by their own cowardice. Yet it is in the midst of such failure, false expectations, and incorrigible personal ambitions and wishes for quick solutions, that Jesus will call them to mission.
For some reason, the Lectionary omits verse 14 from today’s reading of the “longer ending” (and third postresurrection appearance of Jesus) of Mark’s gospel. It is considered an inspired but later addition to Mark 16:8, for the comfort and strengthening of the communities on mission. And so as we gather liturgically around the table, we may not realize that Jesus’s commission to go and proclaim the Good News of his resurrection to the whole of creation is also given to the wounded Eleven “at table.” Nor do we hear how Jesus upbraids them for their lack of faith and stubbornness – something that is surely a great consolation for ourselves as wounded, struggling disciples in whom the flame of missionary desire can flicker or even be extinguished. Yet like the Eleven, we are also people entrusted with the mission of proclaiming the gospel now that the physical presence of Jesus has ascended to heaven and is no longer with us. We too are sent to do new wonders, speak new words with the fire of the Spirit on our tongues, offer new healing to our sisters and brothers, and cast out contemporary “demons” from ourselves and others. And all this continues to be “in the name of,” in the personal power of Jesus into whose Body we are baptized.” (Living Liturgy 2021)
As you may know from the announcement made yesterday by the provincial government, the stay-at-home order has been extended until June 2nd. Today we received a memorandum from the Diocese informing us that the churches in our Diocese will remain closed for the duration of this extended lockdown. We hope and pray that we can be reunited soon here at our place of worship so that we can once again pray together as a believing community.
On Wednesday of this week work started on replacing the old AC units on the church roof. The old units were removed, and the new HVAC units were placed on the roof in new locations, away from the edges, but are not yet connected to the system. The work will continue next week with some adjustments to the ducts on the roof so that they can be tied into the existing ones in the church. If you would like to see some pictures from the project please visit our online bulletin, which will be posted tomorrow in the late afternoon.
This Sunday marks the beginning of Laudato Si Week! 6 years ago, in May of 2015, Pope Francis published his encyclical on the environment in which he calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. Our parish’s new group, the Laudato Si Circle, is hosting three events to mark this week. The Recycling Challenge starts on Sunday, and a tracking sheet can be found here. Monday evening at 7:00pm there will be a live-streamed liturgy on the theme of care for creation on the parish YouTube channel. And next Monday evening (May 24) there will be a Zoom session open to all ages on the topic of recycling at 7:00pm. The Circle hopes that you can join in and wishes you a blessed Laudato Si Week!
This coming Thursday, May 20, students, staff, and families from our five elementary schools will be gathering virtually at 9:15am for a live-streamed liturgy on the theme of the Rosary, which will include a pre-recorded praying of the Rosary that many students and staff have contributed video clips to! All are invited to join in. Our live-streamed morning Mass will be held at 8:30 am that day, rather than 9:00am.
Our new series of ONLINE GATHERINGS has begun! This past Wednesday a number of families gathered on Zoom for our first parish Games Night! Here is the schedule for this coming week:
MONDAY, MAY 17: COFFEE WITH THE CLERGY
Host: Deacon Brian Prieur
Includes: Reading of the Gospel of the day, brief reflection on the Gospel and Saint of the day, discussion time, Question & Answer period. Please submit faith-related questions for the Q&A in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THURSDAY, MAY 20: PRAY & CHAT
Hosts: Deacon Carmelo Campanella & Wes Moga
Includes: Check-in/chit-chat time with a few icebreaker questions, followed by some time in prayer using a traditional Catholic prayer practice.
FOR THE ZOOM INVITES: Please contact Wes at email@example.com.
God bless, everyone.