“Living the Mundane”–Ascension Sunday

Sermon for St. Victor’s Catholic Community Church, Vallejo, California, Saturday, May 23, 2009

Acts 1:1-11; Eph. 4:1-13; Mk. 16:15-20
Today we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus.  It is a big day, an exciting day.  For some forty days Jesus has been in our midst as the Risen Christ, now he ascends to the heavens, and we now await the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Another big day to come.  But the words of our Epistle remind us that in the midst of all of these big things we have been celebrating our lives are lived in the mundane, the ordinary experiences of every day life.

Paul is in prison, he is locked up, awaiting trial, as he writes:

We are invited to live out our vocation, our calling as Christians in our daily lives.  We are called to:  live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient, and bear with one another in love.

“Be humble”: “Humble”, is not a term that means we are weak, but simply that we accept our humanity, and in doing that, to accept the humanity of others who are around us.  To practice what Dorothy Day called “personalism”, to walk with others as fellow human beings. People are often amazed with my college degrees–largely because I do not have a job to which one would assume I would have–and largely because I very seldom use the titles.  The older I have gotten the more I realize they mean little in human relationships, for you see all of us are simply human beings, who hurt, suffer, rejoice, and ultimately will die.  No matter how much money we have or how many degrees or what positions in society we hold–ultimately we all are the same. So walk with each other in humility, walk with each other as equals.

Kind, patient: I have volunteers who come for a while to work on the streets with me. They get impatient after awhile, because it seems all that I do is simply “hang out”.  I talk to people, I give them something to eat, and mostly hang with them. I listen to their mundane conversations, sometimes for an hour or so.  But it is that taking the time to listen that the incarnation takes place, that Jesus becomes visibly presence. People are loved, they are cared for, they find themselves worthwhile.  Our vocation, our calling is to walk with each other in kindness, and patience. We may not have much food to give, much money to give–but we do have kindness, and patience.  Every day I talk to people who have been on the streets for years, and that is where they will remain, there is nothing physically I can do–accept to be kind and patient.  To walk with them in the moment. We can do that for each other–to walk with each other in the moment, to give each other kindness, and patience, to be present to each other in love.

And to bear with one another in love: And I believe most importantly is to bear, to tolerate one another in love.  I have a wall hanging  I picked up in New Orleans on my wall which reads: “A friend is one who sees through your act and still enjoys the show.” When I had malaria three years ago I found out who my real friends were.  They were the ones who walked with me through the illness, but most importantly accepted me in the depression that came with the treatment.  They bore with me in love.  The people I work with are called “institutional failures”, because they do not fit into the institutional mindset of being helped, and so now they are simply discarded.  But for me they are lovable, and they are Jesus.  You see our calling is to bear with one another in love–to walk with each other, even when there seems to be no success story at the end. But ultimately there is a “success” story–that is in the Kingdom of God with the ascended Jesus.

We are called simply to be human beings to one another. To walk with each other, to love, to support, to care–without regard to what we look like, what race or religion we are.  On this Ascension Sunday the ascended Christ smiles up on us as he walks with us in our mundane, everyday lives, calling us to walk with each other. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

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