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A sermon on the Ascension of the Lord

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article

By Fr. Mike Paraniuk
St. Mary Catholic Church (Hillsboro,
St. Benignus Catholic Church (Greenfield),
Saint Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church (Peebles)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church (West Union)

This is what the power of love looks like. A little 5-year-old boy sat at a table, surrounded by presents. His dad lay before the boy a big birthday cake decorated to look like a bowling lane with a bowling ball and pins. 

This birthday celebration was special because no one had ever acknowledged his birthday for the first four years of his life. The dad who made him the cake was his adopted dad. The boy grew up in a home where he was abused, unloved and unwanted. He was not important enough to have a birthday party. Thankfully, he was adopted into a home where a new mom, dad, brothers and sisters would shower him with love so lacking in his former life.

The family gathered around him with the bowling cake. Sounds of "Happy Birthday" filled the room. The family was not sure how the boy would react to this new experience. 

Strangely, he lowered his head to look at floor as if he were embarrassed over all the attention. Many presents were placed before him piled so high they became like a wall surrounding him.  

He then looked up at his mom and dad with an expression like this is too good to be true. He asked, "Is this ALL for me?" 

The dad responded, "Yes, son. All for you!" 

The little boy broke out a huge smile that reached from ear to ear. While looking at the mound of presents, he muttered in amazement, "all for me."

God adopted you and me as His very own children. He sent Jesus to rescue us from the abuse of Satan. Our new home is with God. Like that little adopted boy, Our Father gives his children many gifts. Jesus says in Matthew 7:11, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?" 

What is the greatest gift that Our Father gives us?

The greatest gift is Jesus. Jesus not only made you a child of God but also earned for you a new home in Heaven, where the celebration of eternal life never ends. God knows how to party for sure. Jesus said, "In My Father’s house, are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2.) 

God Jesus used one word to describe what these rooms in Heaven are like. He said to the repentant thief, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43.) Paradise is a place of extreme beauty, delight or happiness. Jesus ascended to prepare this room for you. But you must prepare yourself for Him. 

If I were invited to an overnight stay at Buckingham Palace, I would prepare by taking a bath, dress in my best clothes and bring out the jewelry. Isaiah 61:10 says how God will prepare you for an eternal stay in His Palace. "He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." 

The robe of righteousness is what Jesus did on the Cross to make you friends with God. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, Jesus puts that robe on you. Don't stain it with sin. 

The great scientist Albert Einstein said this is the most important question we should ask about our existence. "Is the universe friendly?" 

The Ascension of Jesus is the answer. Yes, it is. 

Now that I am a year older, my faith means more to me than ever. I am getting closer to living in that room Jesus described as paradise. After 72 years of my earthly journey, I have come to believe Jesus has always been my friend looking out for me. Jesus has never condemned me for my mistakes. He has always been loyal to me. He has shown kindness to me even when I don't deserve it. And most importantly, He loved me when I could not love myself. 

The best way I can thank Jesus is by leading others to discover the fullness of His Love "that fills all things in every way" (Eph. 1:23.). 

I hope when my time comes for judgment that I'll meet others whom I helped along the way to be friends with Jesus, too. When I get to Heaven and behold the gifts God lays before me, I will ask in amazement, "Is this all for me?" 

Happy Ascension Day.

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