Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ascension of the Lord - homily

As the students know, I usually start my homilies off with a joke or a story. But, college students are a tough crowd and many of my jokes have bombed this year. So many times, I give what I think is a good punchline and you can hear a pin drop! It’s like, “cricket…cricket”. And, I can’t really choose just one story to describe our seniors; there are too many. It really has been since day one when I arrived in July that this year’s seniors have wowed me. They are amazing! One senior helped me all summer fixing up the Newman Center. When they arrived in August, a team of seniors stepped up as leaders of our different ministries as we looked for a replacement in our campus minister’s position. They greeted other students for four straight hours at our Opening Barbeque…and they did with a smile the whole time. They have led our retreats this year and gave inspiring talks. They have inspired us all year…all four years. Meg (Miller) and I are grateful from the bottom of our hearts to you seniors. Along, with Alecia, you have been the glue that has held the Newman Center together for four years despite having three chaplains and two campus ministers. Thank you for your example to the next leaders of the Center. You will be sorely missed.

There is a parallel between our seniors and the Apostles during the time of the Ascension. I don’t know if you all picked up on it from today’s Gospel, but Jesus says something to the Apostles that applies to our seniors regarding their time here. He says, “stay in the city until you receive power from on high”. The Apostles stayed in Jerusalem for 10 days after our Lord ascended into Heaven and until they received power from the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; this is when they were “baptized in the Holy Spirit”, as the first reading describes. They received the Spirit after staying in the city and went out on a mission. They went out to proclaim the Lord Jesus. You all have stayed in the city (D.C.) and are now filled with the Spirit. Like the Apostles, you have been filled with joy here and been found often in the temple praising God, again like the Apostles. Now, you are sent out on a mission to proclaim the Lord. You will do this mostly with your actions…with you example…with your witness. But, sometimes, as you know, you will need to do with your words; to the best of your ability, you will need to defend the Lord and the Gospel. Like the Apostles, be faithful to your mission…the mission the Holy Spirit send you on now.

There is another similarity I would like to see you have with the Apostles as you leave GW. Like the Apostles, go out and become saints. Become saints! I don’t necessarily mean that someday you will be canonized and have a capital “St.” in front your name. But, I do mean that you are called to be a saint. You are called to live holiness. You are called to center your life on Jesus Christ. Before any other calling, we are all called to holiness; we are all called to be saints. You are hearing a lot of advice this weekend; and, it’s all good. But, all that stuff is not as important as your call to holiness. Jesus Christ is the one to whom we are to give our lives. He has power over all things; he has power over every dominion and authority. He died for us, rose from the dead, and ascended into glory. He is the one to whom you should live for.

If people want to know the best way to become a saint, we have a simple blueprint: center your life on the Eucharist. When we look at all the saints, we see that as different as they are – different personalities, different backgrounds, different stories – they all share a great love for the Eucharist. If you all have the Eucharist as the center of your lives, I promise you will become saints. You have shown over these four years that your life is centered on the Eucharist, and others have taken notice. You are leading others to worship, adore, and love the Eucharist. Just recently, one of our sophomores said, “I think I am falling in love with the Eucharist”. Amazing!! Thank you, seniors. Thank you for your example that our younger students are now following.

Finally, if we all center our lives on Christ in the Eucharist, we will ascend with Him to Heaven. We will ascend to glory. We will ascend to the Father. We will find happiness in this life and for eternal life. I have great confidence in you seniors that you will become saints, that you will do God’s Will, and that you will ascend to glory. Thank you for all that you have done for us. We love you very much and are very pleased with you. God loves each and every one of you very much and is so pleased with you. As Father Gurnee used to say to you, ‘may God bless each and every one of you every day of your life’”.

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