Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ascension Thursday:'Mission Accomplished!'

(Ascension Thursday 2018: This homily was given on May 10, 2018 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Acts 1: 1-14; Psalm 47: 2-9; Ephesians 1: 17-23; Matthew 28: 16-20.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Ascension Thursday 2018]

“Mission accomplished!”

Those words capture Jesus’ message to his heavenly Father (and to the world) on the day of his ascension 2,000 years ago.

The mission he had been given—the mission to reconcile the world to the Father—was, finally, completed.

Of course that overall mission of reconciliation with God the Father consisted of many smaller, daily missions that Jesus fulfilled.  Every day of his earthly ministry, in other words, Jesus did what his Father wanted him to do.  That was the focus of his life.  That was his purpose.  As he said in John 6: 38, “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of the one who sent me.” 

And doing his Father’s will involved service.  Service to others: service to his friends and even service to his enemies!  Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to serve not to be served and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Our Lord’s service included his preaching and teaching and healings and exorcisms.  And, on Good Friday, it involved his passion and death.

Applying this now to ourselves …

Each of us has an overall mission from God, just like Jesus did.  Ours, not surprisingly however, is a little different from his.  His overall mission was to reconcile the world to the heavenly Father.  Our overall mission on this earth, as the Baltimore Catechism puts it, is to “know God, and love God, and serve God.”

And we fulfill that overall mission by striving to do what Jesus did: by discerning how God wants us to serve him today, and then by carrying out that service—that daily mission—as best we can. 

This, incidentally, is one of the biggest keys to finding happiness, meaning and fulfillment in our lives.  As Catholic author Matthew Kelly puts it in one of his talks:

One of the things I think most people can spend their whole lives ignoring or their whole lives and never really discover, is that human beings are made for mission. You and I, we’re made for mission. We’re not made to be served. We're made to serve.  When we ignore [the fact that we’re made to serve others in this life], at best we get frustrated, [and] at worst we become really, really miserable … Because any time you use something for something that it wasn't intended for, something it wasn't created for, then it's like using a lawnmower as your dishwasher. It just isn't gonna work. You’re made for mission.  And what does that mean? It means that God has placed you on this earth for some specific reason, for some specific mission, and he wants you to carry out that mission. When we think of that, we [might say to ourselves], "Whoa, that's heavy, that’s big. How am I gonna work that out?" You work it out little by little. You work it out by taking the step that's in front of you today. You work it out by realizing, "OK, how can I serve other people today, even in small ways?" And the more we serve other people, the more our mission becomes clearer to us.

So, what is your mission today?

Think about that.  Pray about that at this Mass—especially after Communion.

If you’re on your way to school or work, that’s part of it—although it can’t end there.

On this Ascension Thursday we pray for the grace and the ability to discern and carry out our missions every day, so that when we meet the heavenly Father at the end of our lives we will be able to say to him what Jesus said to him on the first Ascension Thursday: “Mission accomplished!”