Fr Thomas’ Homily for the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

Ascension of the Lord, Blessing

Our new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese boldly said, “Now it is a different Australia”. He was referring to the mandate he had for his policies.  Until his election a week ago, he would not have dared to say it.  What has changed is the blessing he has had through the recent election mandate.  With that blessing he has the power and confidence to imagine and announce a change for Australia.

Jesus took his disciples to the top of Mount of Olives, near Bethany, the highest point, and blessed them.  He announced that in his name the disciples will preach repentance of sins to all nations.  It was an amazingly powerful blessing.   But they were to pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. What we see since then is the amazing transformation of the world because of the disciples of Jesus Christ. Through the history we see the poor and the weak uplifted because of the Church’s teaching and mission. The role Church has played in upholding the dignity of life is unparalleled.  The widely respected ethics and morals which have helped humanity progress into a better world can be traced back to the mission of the Church.  The disciples of Christ offered forgiveness, not revenge, to the past mistakes and sins.  In the post-apartheid South Africa, there was a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’, not a ‘search and kill strategy’ because of the Christian ethos.  If the people in our own country are standing for the right of the workers and dignity of the migrants, they have learned it from the Church.  Just as Jesus blessed his disciples, the Church, the Body of Christ, continues to bless the disciples with the power to transform the world.  Yet we see “how it is written that Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead” (Ref. Luke 24:46).

I consider myself blessed by Christ to become an instrument of transformation in so many lives. Along with all priests and religious, I too praise God for this great commissioning which as made my life fulfilling.  If it was not for the blessing of Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, I, a boy from an Indian village would not have reached out to Berala an agent of transformation.  Whilst many are thankful for my ministry, I also receive criticisms that I am failing in some of the priestly duties.  Those criticisms inadvertently tell me that, thanks to the Spirit, I am capable for much greater mission and impact than what I have realised so far.  Jesus told his disciples, “Stay in the city then until you are clothed with the power from on high.”   Just like the early disciples, I too need to pray and discern the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

Through the sacraments, especially by the grace of the sacrament of Confirmation, every disciple of Christ is empowered to experience and espouse repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As someone who keeps up Holy Communion with Christ, you are empowered to transform the world. Without your cooperation the transforming work of the Holy Spirit will be stifled. So pray and discern that you will be able to live up to your commissioning.