Journey to Hope Week 7

(Homily for Ascension of the Lord)

Message: St. Miguel Pro shows us the hope that belongs to Jesus' call.

You may have noticed (I'm sure the lector did) that the second reading has a very long sentence. It begins with these words, "May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call..." That's what I want to speak about as we celebrate Jesus' Ascension: the hope that belongs to his call.

What does St. Paul mean by "his call"? What is Jesus' call? Paul mentions three things:

the riches of his glory
his inheritance among the holy ones
the greatness of his power for us who believe

I won't analyze each element, but I will say this: Jesus' call opens a great horizon. It's like the difference between a flat earth and a globe.* On a flat earth a person would trudge along and eventually fall of the edge. But with a a globe we have an endless horizon and will always encounter a new adventure.

God has placed us on a physical globe - and Jesus calls us to a great adventure - a great hope. Because of that hope we discover an inexplicable peace in the midst of trials. Last Sunday I told you about St. Philip Neri keeping a sense of humor even "becoming a fool for the sake of Christ and his Gospel." He had a sense of humor about himself and he taught people that if they take Jesus seriously they wouldn't have to take themselves so seriously. Philip Neri shows how we can keep that sense of perspective in time of trial. Today we ask a further question, what about outright persecution? How do we maintain that humility when we face opposition and humiliation?

I'd like to tell you now about someone who did that, who kept his humor in the middle of persecution. He was a young Jesuit named Miguel Pro. Miguel was one of those people born with a happy disposition. You know what I mean. You've seen children who naturally bring a smile to your face. Miguel was one of them. When he entered the seminary, he became popular for his lively humor.

Because of government persecution, however, he was forced to study outside Mexico, first in Texas and finally in Belgium where he was ordained in 1925. The next year he returned to Mexico City. In order to bring Communion to the sick and celebrate clandestine Masses, he assumed various disguises: for example, a mechanic or a beggar. Once when he was giving Communion the police knocked on the door. Fr. Miguel put the Blessed Sacrament in his pocket and when the police entered, he announced that he would help search them search for the priest. After a few minutes, he excused himself telling the officer, with a wink, "my girl friend is waiting for me."

Technically speaking, he wasn't lying. Spanish uses the same word (novia) both for a serious girl friend and for a bride. Of course, the bride of priest is the Church. In the person of Christ, the priest cares for Jesus' bride.

In November of 1927, Fr. Pro was arrested. President Calles condemned him to a public execution. He brought reporters hoping that the priest would beg for his life. Instead Fr. Miguel picked up a crucifix, kissed it and extending his arms, said, "Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King!"

"Viva Cristo Rey." We celebrate Christ the King in November at the end of the liturgical year, but in a real sense today - the Ascension - is the Feast of Christ the King. Today Jesus takes his throne and rules at the right of the Father.

Jesus' Ascension opens an unlimited horizon - a great hope. St. Miguel Pro illustrates that hope and the joy it logically brings. Before his death, Fr. Miguel told a friend, "If I meet any long-faced saints in heaven, I will cheer them up with a Mexican hat dance."

We are coming to the end of our series on hope. Next Sunday (Pentecost) we will see some practical applications. Today, it is enough to remember that St. Miguel Pro shows us the hope that belongs to Jesus' call. The hope that belongs to his call. As we heard in the second reading, it a call to share:

the riches of his glory
his inheritance among the holy ones
the greatness of his power for us who believe. Amen.


*In his book, A Travel Guide to Life, Anthony DeStefano describes this difference.

Spanish Version

From Archives (Ascension, Year A):

2011: The Personal Center
2008: Ascension Quotes
2005: There the Action Lies
2002: Finding the Way Home (Ascension & Mother's Day)
1999: A Wake Up Call

From the Archives (Ascension Homilies):

2013: The Way He Opened
2012: He Took Prisoners Captive
2011: The Personal Center
2010: Disappear vs. Leave
2009: What Good-Bye Means
2008: Ascension Quotes
2007: Separation of Church and State
2006: Whoever Believes and is Baptized
2005: There the Action Lies
2004: Forgiveness - In His Name
2003: What Does "He Ascended" Mean?
2002: Finding the Way Home (Ascension & Mother's Day)
2001: Submission to Jesus
2000: Beyond the Secular Paradigm
1999: A Wake Up Call
1998: Jesus' Rule Vs. Cafeteria Catholicism

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