May 28, 2017: Ascension of the Lord A
Click to hear Audio Homily
Do you know of someone who has a child with autism? One couple noticed that their seemingly normal 22-month old toddler began to regress, losing eye contact, speech, and play skills. After four months of tests, doctors told them that their son, Josiah, had autism for which there is no known cure. Until the age of seven, no amount of therapies and treatments helped their son communicate. It was after the parents saw a documentary about a woman who taught nonverbal children to communicate by pointing at letters, that they decided to teach Josiah through using an iPad. To their surprise, he immediately began to type words, and the first word that Josiah typed on his own was, “godisagoodgiftgiver.” The parents were shocked. The next sets of words that Josiah typed were equally shocking, “God is very capable.” Their 7-year old son began to reveal through the iPad that God was showing him visions of Heaven. His parents were convinced that the complex and profound proclamations about God and Heaven from their son were beyond natural.
There is a tendency in our culture to do away with things that are slightly damaged. Instead of repairing them we say, “Well, I don’t have time to fix it, and it is just as cheap to throw it away and buy a new one.” Sometimes we treat people in the same way. We say, “Well, he has a problem with drinking; well, that person has disability, or she has emotional issues...we’d better not spend too much time with them.” Newly pregnant mothers have come to me very upset because they were told that the baby “has issues” and that they should consider ending the pregnancy--i.e. abort their child.
God’s approach with us, however, is very different. Even before Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan and lost their place in Paradise, God had an eternal plan to rescue humanity, ultimately sending His own Son to assume our lowly and fragile human nature and elevate it to a divine level. As St. Paul said, God raised Jesus from the dead and through ascension, seated him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion. And God put all things beneath his Son’s feet and gave him as the head over all things to us, the church, which is his body. Jesus’ ascension into heaven is hope for all of us, that through divine mercy, our nature is with God in Christ. As man, Our Lord Jesus lives forever to intercede for us with the Father. At the same time, from his throne of glory, Jesus sends out to the whole Church a message of hope and a call to holiness.
The power and efficacy of Our Lord’s Ascension touches all of us in the concrete reality of our daily lives. We may experience difficulties in life as we try to live out the Gospel, but because Jesus is at the right-hand of the Father and interceding for us, his power and grace will sustain each of us and give us the strength to remain steadfast in our dedication to God’s kingdom.
Going back to the child with autism.. One day, Josiah began to type on the iPad, “Just as reality faces you with the might of a wrestler, you face reality with the joy of a Lord. He fights with joy inside of justice. He hits with the pipes of musicians. He fires with the hoping hearers marching to his ways...Worship the king, sing loud to the prized pardon who requires praise...Please him, all you hail the king of majesty forever. Make a noise to the king on the throne." (Josiah's Fire: Autism Stole His Words, God Gave Him a Voice written by Tahni Cullen)
This little autistic child is teaching us about the transforming power of divine love. We need to be be deeply conscious of Christ’s victory and triumph over sin and death. Realize that the strength that Our Lord gives us is greater than our weakness, greater than the weakness of the whole world. As Our Lord told his disciples, the power of the Holy Spirit is available to us, for us to be his witnesses.