Following is the text of the homily given by Fr.
Walter Schu LC to those at the Legion of Christ
seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut, attending the Mass celebrating the Ascension
of Jesus Christ.
Longing for our Lord
If we had to describe
the meaning of today’s feast in one single word, that
word would be longing. The disciples, gathered together on the
mountain in Galilee, long for the Lord to remain with
them as he ascends into the heavens. They can’t quite
believe he has really and definitively left them, as they
remain speechless, staring at the sky. It takes two angels
dressed in white to shake them out of their reverie.
Fray Luis de León, in his famous poem, asks Christ
with disbelief, almost quarreling with our Lord, if he is
actually going to leave his flock, once and for all.
dejas, Pastor santo, tu grey en este valle hondo, oscuro,
con soledad y llanto;
y tú, rompiendo el puroaire, te
vas al inmortal seguro?
Who will calm the storms at sea,
now that the Lord has left them? Who will protect
them against the fury of the Pharisees and Sadducees? Who
will gently chide them in their strife with one another
as they seek the highest places, and remind them that
he who would be first must be the servant of
all? What prospects can they hope for in the remaining
years of their lives, now that the Lord, who is
everything for them, has been taken up into glory beyond
All of these questions lead us to a final
one: Why did our Lord do it? Why did Christ
ascend into heaven and not remain on earth to protect
and console his disciples? To guide the turbulent tide of
events and the very course of history? Why did our
Lord ascend? Why did he leave us?
Longing for heaven
of today’s Mass hints at an answer:
“Mediator between God and
man, judge of the world and Lord of hosts, he
ascended, not to distance himself from our lowly state but
that we, his members, might be confident of following where
he, our Head and Founder, has gone before.”
This answer from
the Liturgy brings us to a second great longing that
is part of the meaning of today’s feast: our longing
All of the second year novices, after reading
Vita Consecrata and Pastores Dabo Vobis, know well one aspect
of our vocation as religious which is part of its
very essence: by professing our vows, we become eschatological signs
of the Kingdom of Heaven. To each person we meet
we become a living reminder that our real home is
not here — it is up in heaven. We are
just pilgrims, passing through life, on a continuous journey toward
These past few weeks I’ve had the honor of
bringing Holy Communion to Robert Davey and Ed Smith, both
of whom are slowly nearing the end of their journey.
It’s like a shot in the arm to see how
their faces light up with joy when I tell them
I’ve brought the Lord to them. That joy is a
vivid reminder to each of us priests and future priests
that the closest we can ever get to heaven on
this earth is when we are right here in the
Lord’s presence in the Eucharist.
Longing for the Holy Spirit
words to his apostles allude to a third longing that
underlies today’s feast. “Behold I am with you always, until
the end of the age.” How can Christ make this
strengthening but apparently unrealizable promise to his closest followers, at
the very moment that he definitively leaves them? Christ’s last
and greatest promise will be fulfilled in just nine days
at Pentecost. Those are nine days in which the apostles
long ardently for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
much does each of us need that same coming of
the Holy Spirit in our own life? We need him
so that the Father can enlighten the eyes of our
hearts, that we may know the hope that belongs to
his call. We need him to experience “the surpassing greatness
of his power for us who believe.” We need him
to be able to fulfill Christ’s great commandment to make
disciples of all nations.
How our hearts need to burn with
longing during these next nine days—just like the hearts of
the disciples on the road to Emmaus burned within them
when the Lord walked beside them and revealed the Scriptures
Conclusion: A Threefold longing
Today’s feast instills in us
a threefold longing: a longing for our Lord, a longing
for heaven, and a longing for the coming of the
Holy Spirit. Let us ask our Blessed Mother during these
final days of May to increase that longing in our
hearts until it is at last fulfilled in eternal life.