June 2nd, 2019


Homilies are never the creative act of one person.  Thus, in posting these homilies on St. Mary’s Cathedral’s website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be little original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it: ‘tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures and/or the Spiritual Life.

God bless you.

Father Shawn


For 40 days after Easter, after His Resurrection, the Lord Jesus walked this earth.  Over these 40 days he eats and drinks with his disciples and continues to teach them about the Kingdom.  His glorified Body remains veiled under the appearance of his ordinary human nature.  The events that happened after the Resurrection are recorded to convince us of the Resurrection’s truth.  He appeared to the Apostles many times, he allowed Thomas to put his hands in his wounds, he walked with them, ate with them, celebrated Mass with them.  Indeed, he showed them time and again…He was truly Risen!!!! Today we celebrate his Ascension;  the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory…into heaven.    


Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus. (John 16:28) He himself tells us referring t Himself:  “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.” (John 3:13; cf. Ephesians 4:8-10) ” Left to its own natural powers humanity, we,  do not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness. ( John 14:2) Only Christ can open to us such access that we, the members of his Church, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has gone ahead of us.  


As we heard in our second reading Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands…but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”  (Hebrews 9:24)  Fully God and Fully Man, He has dignified humanity by ascending to the Father,  Fully Man and Fully God.   There, in the Father’s presence, Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw near to God through him”. (Hebrews 7:25) 


Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom and intercedes on our behalf there, so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.


Earthly kings may have earthly success;  power, wealth, but they will always remain mortal, vulnerable as all of them will eventually die.  But our King, Our Lord and Saviour because he has risen from the dead and  ascended into heaven, HIS Kingdom is certain…And because of the Ascension eternal…HIS Church will never be destroyed.  If we stay faithful to Our King Our Lord,…our victory over sin, evil, and injustice is assured as is the happiness that comes with such a victory.  This is why we live in such great hope.  


Christ’s Ascension filled his disciples with joy, because they now knew for certain that the Christian cause, everything Christ taught and did,  was true…and not only true could never be defeated.  Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension proves His Lordship.  


This reality that we celebrate today fills us with expectant joy…with confidence…Father Paul Mawalla walked into the sacristy before the 8 am Mass today and instead of saying “Hello” he greeted all of us with “Are you happy in the Lord?”  

That is what this feast is all about,,,as we have prayed all Easter season in the Preface of the Mass…just before the Holy, Holy, Holy… “therefore, overcome with paschal joy,…overcome with Easter joy,…every land exults in your praise and even the heavenly powers, with the Angelic hosts, sing together the unending hymn of your glory…”  What we are celebrating is such a powerful assurance  of hope we are overcome with joy!!!! 


We need to beg the Father to give us such expectant joy, such hope, such confidence!


As we prayed today in the Opening Prayer

“Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving for the Ascension of Christ your Son is , exaltation and where the Head, Christ, has gone in glory, the Body, [we the members of the Church,] those who are faithful to him,  are called to follow. Today we are reminded to open our hearts to such holy joys.


Christ’s entire life – his words and works, and above all his suffering death, resurrection and ascension is a lesson.  As our gospel says…Christ is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,…And because that has happened “repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”  Christ’s suffering, death, Resurrection and Ascension are to teach us the way to repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Nothing is more important.  Sin separates us from God.  God is our only source of lasting happiness.  Jesus says this lesson, repentance,  must be preached in his name to all nations.  The disciples can’t do this by themselves…They need the Holy Spirit…to be clothed with power from on high… 


In the ascension of Our Lord, we come face-to-face with the core of the entire Gospel:  Christ’s saving message being transmitted to all people, through the ministry of the Church, through the power from on high in the Holy Spirit.  Christ tells us he must return to the Father so he can send their Spirit.  He must return to the Father so that the Church can be born and his work continued by the Church. We are assured in the Ascension of Our Lord that God gives his Holy Spirit to those who obey him. (Acts of the Apostles 5:32)


Thus, as the last line of our second reading exhorted us, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23) God is faithful.


Pope St. Leo the Great put it this way:  “For to-day not only are we, [those who faithfully follow Christ,] confirmed as possessors of paradise, but have also in Christ penetrated the heights of heaven, and have gained still greater things through Christ’s unspeakable grace.”  Leo the Great. (1895). Sermons. In P. Schaff & H. Wace (Eds.), C. L. Feltoe (Trans.), Leo the Great, Gregory the Great (Vol. 12a, pp. 186–187). New York: Christian Literature Company.


Father Paul’s greeting really struck me:  “Are you happy in the Lord?”  Today’s feast assures us that we have every reason to be.