Saturday, May 19, 2012
May 20, 2012: Ascension of Our Lord
Click to hear audio homily
On Friday, I celebrated mass at the nursing home, and I took out a twenty-dollar bill and asked a couple of question to the residents starting with, “When did you graduate from high school?” I heard, “1940, 50, 58...” I then asked, “How much did it cost to go see movies?” Some replied, “25 cents.” How much was popcorn and soda, I asked. “10 cents.” I asked the same questions to the graduating class of 2012 at the baccalaureate mass this week. When I asked, “Can you take your date to the movies with $20,” they all laughed. A ticket to a 3D movie costs $12 per person and with the popcorn at $6 a bucket, you can’t even get yourself a movie ticket, popcorn, and coke for $20, let alone the same for your date. (Pictured below: Grand Theater, Donaldsonville)
Standing before the 2012 Ascension Catholic School graduates, their parents, and friends, I held out the $20 bill and asked them the following question. “If I were to rip, stomp, crumple, and spit upon this $20 bill, I bet that I can still take it to a local grocery store and redeem it for $20 worth of stuff. Who stands behind the value and worth of this $20 bill?” “US Government,” one of the students answered. Then I asked, “Who stands behind your worth and your dignity?” “God?” a student answered. “That’s right”, I replied, “each of you is worth so much that God himself redeemed you by sacrificing His very own life...Look at who is sitting behind you, your parents, grandparents, your family and friends. You don’t stand alone. Backing each of you is the love and sacrifice of all your family, but most of all, God’s got your back.”
We need to turn to the second part of the biblical question: “Why do you stand looking up to heaven?” The disciples looked up to heaven because they looked to Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Risen One, raised up on high. Here on earth, we are called to look up to heaven, to turn our minds and hearts to the inexpressible mystery of God. We are called to look towards this divine reality, to which we have been directed from our creation. For there we find life’s ultimate meaning. Jesus showed us how to ascend to the Father: we must love. At times, we may fall into the trap of measuring our worth by how many $20 bills we can accumulate, but we must remember that our worth is measured by the greatest sacrifice that God made for us. There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. Just as our family and God back us up, we must do the same for one another.