Feast of the Ascension - homily
“They worshiped, but they doubted”. Why is it that we doubt the things of God more than other things in life? We make acts of faith every day; they are small acts and its faith with a small ‘f’. For example, when we buy a can of Coke, we make an act of faith. We can’t see if it’s Coke or not inside the can, and yet we buy it because we believe it’s Coke. When we drive down a two-lane road, we can’t see what’s going to happen, but we believe that the oncoming car will not veer across the yellow line into our lane. Each night, when we got to sleep, we believe that we will wake up the next morning even though we can’t see what will happen.
Why do we do this? Why do we believe in things every day that we can’t see? Because there are reasons to believe…there is evidence…there is proof. We believe that the can is filled with Coca-Cola because every time we have bought a can of soda with Coco-Cola written on the outside of the can there has been Coke on the inside. We believe that the other cars on the road will obey the traffic laws because that has been our overwhelming experience on the road. We believe that we will wake up from sleep because it has happened every time so far.
God knows that we need to see Him in order to believe. Today’s first reading says that Jesus “presented…many proofs” to the Apostles in the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension. The most obvious proof of his divinity was the Resurrection. They saw him die, and then they saw him alive again. They ate meals with him and talked with him after his death. Today’s event, the Ascension, is another proof. What a vision it must have been for them to see – Christ being taken up to Heaven…to glory.
But, with God knowing that the disciples need to see him to believe in Him, something happens: He leaves them. He left them! What would happen to their faith in Him if they couldn’t see Him? Two things: one, He sent the Holy Spirit ten days after the Ascension at Pentecost to help them. The Spirit of Christ would give them great faith and courage. Two, He said to them, “I will be with you always until the end of the age”. He is referring primarily to the Eucharist. He is saying, “I will still be with you; I’ll just look a little different’.
Now, they’re many people who doubt when it comes to the things of God, especially the Eucharist. The point about the Apostles is that they continued to worship even though they doubted. Many people stop worshiping -they stop coming to Mass - because they doubt. Jesus knows we need to see to believe in Him in the Eucharist. He has presented many proofs for us that the Eucharist is really His Body and Blood. He taught about the Eucharist in John 6, instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, and then said in this Gospel that He will be with us until the end of the world.
If, after seeing these reasons to believe, we still doubt, we can look at the proof He offers in the miracles of the Eucharist. In the past 1300 years, our Lord has worked at least four miracles that the Church, His Body, has approved. And, when the Church approves something as a miracle, we can be sure it’s a miracle! He has worked these miracles to give those who need to see almost scientific proof for the same reason He worked miracles 2000 years ago: to help people in their faith…to help people believe in Him.
The main reason why some people doubt the things of God is because they don’t see Him in their lives. At all. They see no reason, no evidence, no proof to believe. We are the ones who need to show them God. We are called to show them that He is real. May the grace of the Eucharist help us to show them God. May they believe as we believe that He is with us always until the end of the world.