Homily

Homily for the Ascension Of The Lord (5/15/2021)

Deacon Chris

 

Police

derive their authority and power

from the community they serve.

 

In order for it to be successful

police must engage the community,

 

be familiar to those people

and be trusted, open and consistent.

 

Here in Lynchburg,

we call this approach Community Policing.

 

 

In the first reading today

we hear from the Acts of the Apostles.

 

Jesus is instructing the disciples

in what their ministry will be.

 

Jesus includes a specific instruction

that they wait in Jerusalem

for baptism with the Holy Spirt.

 

The disciples are enthusiastic and hopeful

that this baptism will be

the beginning of the restoration

of the Jewish kingdom,

 

and the defeat of all its enemies.

 

Jesus assures them

that they will receive power,

but it will be the power of witness.

 

 

As the disciples try to understand

this idea of power

Jesus ascends into heaven.

 

The disciples gaze heavenward,

unsure what they are to do.

 

Then two angels appear.

 

They give no further guidance

about the question of power,

other than to ask,

 

“Why are you standing there,

looking at the sky?”

 

The angels’ question to the disciples

draws our attention back to Jesus’ final comment.

 

“You will receive power

when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,

and you will be my witnesses…..

to the ends of the earth.”

 

Jesus is directing the disciples to a course of action………

 

It is the question of the Ascension.

 

It will not be sufficient for them

to simply “look at the sky”.

 

 

 

 

 

Community policing requires more

than to “look at the sky”.

 

Successful models of Community policing

involve more than the police department.

 

In Lynchburg

the Police

partner with the Sherriff’s department.

 

They are supported by the Lynchburg Fire Department.

 

The City Council supports their effort

through initiatives

like “Bridges out of Poverty”.

 

Local organizations like “One Community, One Voice”

walk troubled neighborhoods with the police.

 

Local pastors and clergy

and their congregations

address specific issues.

 

It is not an effort

accomplished by one element

of government or the community.

 

It is a gathering of disciples

disciples who witness to the community.

 

They do not stand and look at the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

In the second reading

Paul writes to the church

that their behavior should reflect what they have received.

 

Paul tells them that if they conduct themselves

with humility, gentleness, and patience

 

their witness through their conduct

will be recognized

 

and they will engage the community,

be familiar to those people

and be trusted, open and consistent.

 

Paul writes that those who build the body of Christ

 

will attain a common point of view,

shared and sacred values,

and will meet Jesus’ command

to be witnesses to all the world.

 

Witnesses cannot spend their time looking at the sky.

 

 

We are emerging from a year of isolation.

 

And during this isolation,

voices have risen

that call for radical changes to our society,

to personal behavior,

and personal responsibility.

 

Many of these voices

advocate ideas in conflict with our social norms

as well as our christian values and beliefs.

 

Those voices often advocate

that individuals should not be limited

by any authority other than their own appetites.

 

To these voices it is a requirement

that any person or thing

that imposes a different standard or expectation

must be silenced.

 

The authority of the police

is based on a set of standards and expectations.

 

In order for individuals

to be able to conduct themselves

without regard for anyone

other than themself

 

The police must be shackled or stopped.

 

Yet the police continue to witness to their mission,

engage the community, and serve.

 

They cannot simply look at the sky.

 

The voices who speak against the police

often oppose religion.

 

In order for a godless, self-centered population

to function openly

 

there can be nothing

that would challenge their behavior.

 

Religion is that challenge,

and the voice say,

it must be silenced.

 

Yet, like the police,

we as witnesses, continue our mission,

engaging all we meet.

 

 

During our period of isolation,

we at Holy Cross are considering

the challenges facing us as Catholics

and witnesses for Christ.

 

We are not standing, looking at the sky.

 

A year ago the parish conducted a survey

to identify the work we are called to do

as witnesses empowered by Jesus.

 

The Pastoral Council,

with the support of Fr. Rush

and many others who have volunteered time and effort,

 

have been meeting, planning and developing

the mission, vision and plan for the parish.

 

It will offer all of us

The chance to witness, engage and participate.

 

It will serve our community

and the greater community outside these walls.

 

It will provide the opportunity to reflect

on what we have received.

 

It is a time of witness.

 

In the Gospel today

Jesus sends his witnesses out into the world.

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit,

we also are commissioned as witnesses.

 

We will drive out the demons of the day.

 

We will explain what is true.

 

We will speak out

against the evil that is proclaimed by the evildoers.

 

We will not be overcome by social upheavals.

We will save those who seem to be lost.

 

We will be the ones who gain authority.

Others will come to us to listen.

 

Others will want to be a part of the Jesus

who is so much larger than they are.

 

The Ascension tells us

Jesus has finished His human mission on earth.

 

We, who are granted the power of witness

take up the calling given to the disciples that day.

 

 

 

 

We do not stand, looking at the sky.

 

We witness,

and our witness is to Jesus Christ.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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