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“My Kingdom is Not of This World...”

A Sermon for the Feast of the Ascension
Delivered by the Very Rev. Fr. Casimir M. Puskorius, CMRI

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

My dear parishioners, this feast of the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven is one of the feasts of His Kingship. Our Lord was always a King. Even before He assumed our human nature He was always the Lord and King of creation. When He was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, He was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

But we see thus far in His life Christ makes no effort whatsoever to seek the honor that was His due. As a matter of fact, one time in His public life after He had worked a miracle, the people were so thrilled and so grateful that they wanted to crown Him king right there. And what does the Gospel say? He hid Himself. As soon as He saw them coming to give Him royal honor, He fled. But even then, He was the King of Kings. Finally, when He was dying on the Cross, the King of Kings gave His last drop of Blood for His creatures. He very clearly refused this honor, taking instead the absolute opposite.

After Our Lord rose from the dead, did He go openly throughout Palestine, Israel and Judea? No. He showed Himself only to a select few: the Apostles, our Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalen, five hundred brethren at one time. He did not go through the entire country saying, “Will you now acknowledge Me? Will you now honor Me as the King?” He hid Himself even then.

But today, Ascension Thursday, Our Lord will not be denied. He goes to Heaven where He will receive full adoration, veneration and honor. When Christ stood before Pilate, He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” That is why He refused the honor over and over again, unless people worshipped Him in a spirit of faith. But for those who just wanted to honor Him as a mighty person, He would have no part of it: “My Kingdom is not of this world.”

The Church that Christ founded would not have any inherent political power either. Oh yes, the Church has the right to own property, such as the Vatican City State. But that is only so that it can fulfill its spiritual mission. The Church only has authority in faith and morals. Christ made it clear that He did not seek secular power, even though He was King and Lord of all.

But today, as I have just said, He ascends into Heaven, where He will not be denied. Our mind cannot begin to imagine the fullness of glory given to Him by the court of Heaven — and not by the entire court of Heaven only, for directly behind Him came all the souls of the Old Testament that had been waiting in Limbo.

When Christ, as we say in the Creed, “descended into hell,” His soul went went down to limbo. He told the souls there that they were redeemed, but they had to stay there for another 42 days. Then on Ascension Thursday, Our Lord, as the mightiest of kings, took His place at the head of a triumphant procession, His entire retinue behind Him, and all of Heaven opened up with infinite glory and praise as He entered. This is the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ into His glory.

From now until the end of time, He will never again refuse honor and praise. It is to be given to Him; we must give it to Him. He is glorified forever; He sits at the right hand of God the Father. He ascended by His own power, as God and as man. He had to leave His Apostles, and go to His glory in Heaven, where He waits for you and me.

Remember: God created us for Heaven. He did not create us for hell. Unfortunately, many will go there because they choose to not do His Will. But for all of those who sincerely pray and strive to do His will, for them Our Lord waits in Heaven.

My dear brethren, we need to turn our eyes up into Heaven, to remind ourselves that we are only pilgrims here on earth. It is so easy, is it not — I’m sure you will readily admit this to yourselves, as I do to myself — it is so easy to get caught up in the passing things of this world, and to forget that we were not created to be perfectly happy here on earth.

God knows us better than we know ourselves, and therefore He allows sufferings and sorrow to come into our lives. He sees that when we have too much of the legitimate joys and pleasures of life, our minds turn away from Him and fix themselves onto earthly things.

When sorrows and sufferings come to us, they are sent by God’s infinite love — even though it may not feel like it. It is at these times — and not when we are experiencing the joys of life — that we say to ourselves, “I wasn’t created for this world after all.”

What I am about to say may sound strange, and even cruel, but it’s not in the least. On this Ascension Thursday, I wish for you enough sorrow and enough suffering in this life that you will not forget your True Home in Heaven. And I pray that I, too, will have the suffering and sorrow that I need to keep my eyes on my Heavenly Home.

Today is a special feast for priests. Why? Because what is the priesthood all about except helping you to get to Heaven? A man cannot be a priest for himself. So, in a way, my whole life is tied up with your salvation. If you are doing your part, not only spiritually, but in all ways that can be considered, I am truly happy for you.

What grieves any priest who loves his parishioners is to see them not doing what they need to do to save their souls. So, for your sakes, and all of those around you, be sure to strive to reach your Heavenly Kingdom. Always keep the right perspective. Live the Gospel. Live what the Holy Scripture teaches us to do on a daily basis.

I will close with this beautiful and true story for this Ascension Thursday to help us keep our eyes fixed on Heaven. One of the Sisters was describing to me the death of her grandfather, which happened some years ago. He was a very devout man, truly faithful to all of the duties of his Catholic Faith, persevering to the end.

He was very emaciated as he lay dying. As a matter of fact, for about ten minutes it seemed that he had died. He had stopped breathing, and his heart had stopped, but the doctors were able to bring him back. Sister told me how her mother saw her grandfather immediately after he had experienced what was basically a near-death experience.

His eyes were glowing with a supernatural light. When her mother went into the room, he turned to her with whatever feeble strength he had as she came near and grasped her hand. He said to her, with his eyes shining, for it was clear that he had seen something: “It is so real! It is so real, what they have taught us our whole lives as Catholics!” I believe that very shortly afterwards he died peacefully.

Let this little example tell us, my dear brethren, that it is real. It is so true what Jesus Christ teaches us through the Catholic Church. Make that act of faith and renew your faith on this glorious feast of the Ascension.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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