Ascension and Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B
- The Lord raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap (Ps. 113:7)
The transitional deacon who preached today at Holy Family Church in American Canyon, California, told the story of his being presented, at age six, to a bishop who was making a church visitation. It happened in Poland.
The bishop asked him: “What would you want to be when you grow up? A priest, perhaps?” The deacon said he replied without hesitation, “No, I’d like to be God.” Asked why, he explained that as God he would not have to die, get sick or suffer.
The boy’s grandfather, a member of the Communist Party who did not go to church, got word of what his grandson had said to the bishop. He spoke to the boy and said, “So you would like to be God, I heard.” When the boy answered “yes,” the old communist then quickly added, “Then you will have to be crucified.”
Indeed, there is no divine exaltation for us without human crucifixion. In fact, in the Gospel of John, Jesus’ exaltation occurs at the moment of his crucifixion, the hour of his glorification coinciding precisely with the hour of his suffering (Jn. 8:28; 12:32; 17:1). Or, as Eph. 4:9 indicates, what does it mean that Jesus is risen and exalted except that he died on the cross and descended to the depths?
And this, surely, is good news to the poor, to those who die, get sick or suffer—even if, admittedly, it takes having the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to discern this. To discern, too, the body of Christ in the poor, “the privileged meeting place with God in the world” (cf. Father Robert P. Maloney’s Advent 1997 letter to the Congregation of the Mission in Vincentiana ) and see the God, whom no one has ever seen, yet remains with us as we love one another.