Ascension Church

Homily, Nov. 26, 2017


I. It was a beautiful thing to celebrate Thanksgiving at Ascension. On both Wednesday and Thursday I witnessed parishioners spending part of their holiday spending themselves to feed the hungry and the poor, preparing and delivering some 1,400 Thanksgiving dinners. The goal, of course, is meeting a basic human need in a simple act of charity. But in this interaction, something much more happens: one gets a glimpse of Christ—in the giver, yes, but more vividly in the receiver.


II. In today’s reading from the critical twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, which Pope Francis calls the protocol by which we will be judged, Jesus directly identifies himself with the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized. Jesus tells us that if we’re looking for him, that’s where he’ll be: his identity with the poor and powerless is total. He is an uncommon king, much more the good and true shepherd who smells like his sheep. And so, the Christian has a singular way of viewing the poor and those on the margins, seeing them through a uniquely Christian lens. To tolerate the inequities and injustices among refugees and immigrants, the hungry and poor, the displaced and marginalized—to see them and do nothing—is to see Jesus himself and not be moved; it’s to see the suffering Christ and not care.


III. One preacher says that we who proclaim Matthew 25 must be seared by it. Here at Ascension, we have a unique opportunity to not only proclaim Matthew 25, but to live it. Here we hear Jesus’ call to encounter and embrace him embodied in all our brothers and sisters. Here we confront matters that affect immigrants and others who suffer racism, others who are marginalized, uncomfortable though it might be. But as Blessed Oscar Romero says,


A church that does not provoke any crisis, preach a gospel that does not unsettle, proclaim a word of God that does not get under anyone’s skin or a word of God that does not touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed: what kind of gospel is that?


“In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.” (St. John of the Cross.) In the end, we will be judged on whether or not we’ve met others’ most basic human need. We will be judged on love alone.