I thought of this event as I read in the Gospel passage for this solemnity of the Ascension that “the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.” The Lord Jesus who is referred to is the same one who according to St. John, “we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched” The person who ascended to heaven was not a spirit, it was a real human being of human flesh, although resurrected. The passage tells us therefore that the flesh of humans is good enough to be “at the right hand of God”
That is the destiny of human flesh, my flesh and your flesh, to be in Jesus Christ at the right hand of God. What a destiny! And what respect therefore we owe to humanity, all of humanity. This also means that the flesh of humans has been made sacred through the Ascension of Christ Jesus, not only the flesh of people we love but the flesh of all peoples of whatever ethnicity or social or financial status. With what respect therefore must I treat my own body!
St. Paul also tells us; “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”
The problem of the culture in which we live is that we no longer see our bodies as sacred because God means less and less to us. We have made and worship other gods; money and pleasure and power. To say then that the destiny of our human flesh is to be at the right hand of God means little to most people. We no longer honour God with our bodies. The corollary is that in the measure that we lose the sense of the sacredness of our own bodies, and use our bodies not to honour God but in the pursuit of pleasure or money or power, we lose respect for the bodies of others and with that loss of respect for the human bodies, for human flesh, comes all the crimes against the human person, from abortion to our acceptance of the poverty and destitution of so many of our brothers and sisters, and murder. This loss of respect for the sacredness of all flesh is at the heart of racism, injustice and discrimination of all kinds.
What a task there is for the church, through its members, to fulfil! You and I are called to work for the restoration of respect for human flesh. We cannot do this however until and unless we acknowledge our faults in this area of life, and then take the saints for example. Saints like Mother Teresa who gave her life striving to get respect for those dying on the streets of large cities or Mons Romero who was martyred for his untiring efforts to bring respect to the poor peasants of his land; they are models whom we must follow. Unless we do this our countries will continue to sink into the morass of degradation which we must at all costs avoid.
All powerful and ever-loving God fill us with a respect for all human flesh, because in Jesus Christ your Son, all flesh is at your right hand. We ask forgiveness for the many times we have lacked respect for others because of their ethnicity or social or financial status and we ask that your grace be with us always so that we remember that we are temples of your Holy Spirit And seek to glorify You with our bodies. We ask this through, Mary our mother and Jesus your Son. Amen
Gospel Mk 16:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
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