Sunday, 1 June 2014

Ascension Sunday, Year A, Shaftesbury

Mt 28: 16-20
Last week, as you may recall, I indicated that the previous week been pretty heavy for me, that I’d felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.
This week, in contrast, has been one of those weeks where it has felt like all my cares have been lifted away
What was the difference?
I'd like to claim that it was because I'd fully lived my own advice:
i.e that I'd relied in the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than my own power;
I'd handed it all into the hands of Our Lady and entrusted my problems to her
-and I DID do these two things,
but, I don't think I can claim that I did them so whole-heartedly that it had changed my life.
Instead, the change was largely due to external factors -and this is a problem: as long as my happiness depends on such external factors then my happiness is going to be as fickle as the weather -which, in Britain, means that my happiness will be utterly unreliable!

The gospel for today's Mass points us towards the foundation and priority that CHRIST builds for us, and let me note two things.
First, it is oriented to heaven. That was where He was going. That is where He wishes us to be looking too.
Second, let us consider for a moment His PRIORITIES in sending out His Apostles. He had come down from heaven to earth to ‘sort the world out’, so to speak. Now He was at the conclusion of the earthly part of His mission; He had promised to send His Holy Spirit to empower His apostles in their new task, and He was entrusting to them the task of EXTENDING His mission to every corner of the world and every age of history. "All authority... Go therefore…all nations"(Mt 28:18-19)

My point is this (and I won’t claim its my own original insight -I got it from a commentary by Fr John Bartunek LC, in ‘The Better Part’), my point is this:
WHAT Did He send them out to do?
What had His mission of saving the world been all about?
Did He send them out to build better roads and infrastructure? Or to create fairer tax systems?
No, He sent them out to preach and to administer the sacraments, to baptise and teach what He had taught them.
They taught of ‘Emmanuel’ -‘God is with us’, in Jesus Christ;
The sacraments they administered CAUSED God to BE present with us.
This was a very heavenly, OTHER-WORLDLY set of priorities.
Yet, in a way that many would consider ironic, this focus on the OTHER world changed THIS world -made it a better place.

And this holds for ourselves, too, as individuals.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33) said Jesus, and those other things will be “added unto you” also.
If that is what we seek FIRST and foremost -like the Apostles being sent PRIMARILY to preach and administer the sacraments, then we will be living a life with a more solid foundation than the ever-fluctuating vagaries of this world.
If my happiness depends on God, on my knowledge that He loves me, and cares for me,
If my joy comes from the daily and even moment-by-moment encounter with Him,
then I will live a more secure happiness.
So that, last week, this week, next week, my mood shouldn't fluctuate like the British weather.

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