Feast of the Ascension

May 28th 2017


Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.


We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand

We pay our respects to them for their care of the land

May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.


I acknowledge the living culture of the ……..people,

the traditional custodians of the land we stand on,

and pay tribute to the unique role they play in the life of this region.


We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are now gathered,

(the ……)  and recognise that it continues to be sacred to them.

We hail them: as guardians of the earth and of all things that grow and breed in the soil; as trustees of the waters – [the seas, the streams and rivers, the ponds and the lakes] - and the rich variety of life in those waters.

We thank them for passing this heritage to every people since the Dreamtime.

We acknowledge the wrongs done to them by newcomers to this land and we seek to be partners with them in righting these wrongs and in living together in peace and harmony.


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Ascension Blessing

It is a mystery to me
how as the distance
between us grows,
the larger this blessing

As if the shape of it
depends on absence,
as if it finds its form
not by what
it can cling to
but by the space
that arcs
between us.

As this blessing
makes its way,
first it will cease
to measure itself
by time.

Then it will release
how attached it has become
to this place
where we have lived,
where we have learned
to know one another
in proximity and

Next this blessing
will abandon
the patterns
in which it moved,
the habits that helped it
recognize itself,
the familiar pathways
that it traced.

Finally this blessing
will touch its fingers
to your brow,
to your eyes,
to your mouth;
it will hold
your beloved face
in both its hands

and then
it will let you go,
it will loose you
into your life,
it will leave
each hindering thing
until all that breathes
between us
is blessing
and all that beats
between us
is grace.



Reading I Acts 1:1-11

Responsorial Psalm Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Reading II Eph 1:17-23

Gospel Mt 28:16-20


Penitential Rite

·         Jesus, you call us to be your witnesses to the ends of the earth. Jesus, have mercy.

·         Jesus, through your body you have opened a new way for us. Christ, have mercy.

·         Jesus, you clothe us with your power from on high. Jesus, have mercy.




·         Lord Jesus, you promised to be with us always: Lord, have mercy.

·         Christ Jesus, you promised your Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives: Christ, have mercy.

·         Lord Jesus, you promised to prepare a place for us in your kingdom: Lord, have mercy.


Opening Prayer

Ever-present God, 

Jesus, who lives in your presence

is near to us through the Spirit,

Clothe us with the power promised from high,

and send us forth to the ends of the world

as his witnesses

by helping to build up your Reign

of justice, truth and compassion.


Prayer of the Faithful

Introduction: Jesus has entrusted his work to us. Let us pray to God who is with us and acts through us.  We now pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.

·         May the Indigenous people of this country continue to explore their personal histories and stories in the ongoing journey of healing and feel that their pain is understood by the wider community, we pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.

·         May the Spirit be poured out over the leaders of nations that they may be people of vision where their foremost concern is the human dignity of people and the integrity of creation, we pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.

·         May all the peoples of the Holy Land and the Middle East recognise that they are sons and daughters of Abraham and begin to treat one another with respect as sisters and brothers, we pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.

·         May our Christian communities be alive to Christ and the Spirit as they build and confirm others in hope and service, we pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.

·         May our communities seek less to preserve their own interests and privileges and foster the growth of those that suffer from inequality and injustice, we pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.

·         May religious leaders and all people of good will hold our governments accountable when they neglect the poor and vulnerable, or blame them for their situations, and increase military expenditure whilst cutting foreign aid, we pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.

·         May governments around the world cease to persecute people who advocate for peace with justice, people who seek freedom, independence and human rights, and work creatively with all community leaders to achieve a just peace through nonviolent means, we pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.

·         May people who continue to suffer terrible ethnic violence, where women and children are continually violated in war, in the streets and in the home, experience God’s message of justice, truth and compassion rather than silence and neglect, we pray: Send us your Spirit, O God.


Concluding Prayer: Ever-present God, as we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus, we ask that you give us the strength and love of your Spirit, that we might be faithful disciples in the service of  your Reign of justice, love, and peace.


Prayer over the Gifts

Ever-present God,

through our offerings

may we be open to receive from Jesus his Spirit of strength

that we may not keep staring at heaven

but look at the world by committing ourselves

to make it more and more your world.


Prayer over the Gifts [Alternative]

Ever-present God,

in these signs of bread and wine

Jesus is with us always.

May he live and grow in us,

and animate us by the power of the Holy Spirit

to be his body to the world

and to make disciples of all nations.


Prayer after Communion

Ever-present God,

you touch us in the Eucharist

and have entrusted to us

the mission of Jesus to be his present in the world.

Help us to follow him with love and compassion

by our reverence for creation

and see in it signs of your presence everywhere.


Prayer after Communion [Alternative]

Ever-present God,

you have entrusted to us

the mission of Jesus, your Son,

to be his presence to the world.

May people see that Christ is alive through our service

and recognise in us his body offered to the world.


Final Blessing

·         May we be God’s messengers of hope by the way we live the gospel. AMEN.

·         May we continue to make Christ visible to the people of our time and place. AMEN.

·         May God’s Spirit of wisdom be with us as go and serve the people around us. AMEN.


Further Resources

The world is overcome not through destruction, but through reconciliation. Not ideals, nor programs, nor conscience, nor duty, nor responsibility, nor virtue, but only God's perfect love can encounter reality and overcome it. Nor is it some universal idea of love, but rather the love of God in Jesus Christ, a love genuinely lived, that does this.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditations on the Cross


Idolatry is the practice of ascribing absolute value to things of relative worth. Under certain circumstances money, patriotism, sexual freedom, moral principles, family loyalty, physical health, social or intellectual pre-eminence, and so on are fine things to have around, but to make them the standard by which all other values are measured, to make them your masters, to look to them to justify your life and save your soul is sheerest folly.

Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking


Intense prayer, yes, but it does not distract us from our commitment to history: by opening our heart to the love of God it also opens it to the love of our brothers and sisters, and makes us capable of shaping history according to God's plan . . . A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to 'make room' for our brothers and sisters, bearing 'each other's burdens' (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.

Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, #43


We have a lot of work to do. Every time we reach out and assuage someone's hunger, and do that in memory of Jesus, a sense of Eucharist will bring to consciousness the Spirit and the real presence of Jesus--in us, through us, among us. That Spirit alone is capable of transforming us and the world.

Miriam Therese Winter, MMS


The only way to peace is forgiveness. To accept and give forgiveness makes possible a new quality of rapport between people, interrupting the spiral of hatred and revenge and breaking the chains of evil which bind the heart of rivals . . . To love the one who offends you disarms the adversary and is able to transform a battlefield into a place of supportive co-operation.

Pope John Paul II, Message for Lent 2001


Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?

Kahlil Gibran


….voluntary poverty means non-participation in those comforts and luxuries which have been manufactured by the exploitation of others…

Dorothy Day


All wars, all struggles, all problems that are not resolved, with which we face, are due to

a lack of dialogue…. When there is a problem, dialogue: this makes peace. And this is what I wish for you in this journey of dialogue: that you may know how to dialogue; how this culture thinks.

Pope Francis August 21, 2013 to a group of Japanese students.


I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!......... It is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.”

Pope Francis Wednesday audience, Sep 1, 2013


All real living is meeting

Martin Buber (1878 - 1965) Jewish Religious Philosopher, I and Thou





I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man's life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.

Martin Buber (1878 - 1965) Jewish Religious Philosopher


I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue.

Martin Buber (1878 - 1965) Jewish Religious Philosopher


There are three principles in a man's being and life, the principle of thought, the principle of speech, and the principle of action. The origin of all conflict between me and my fellow-men is that I do not say what I mean and I don't do what I say.

Martin Buber, (1878 - 1965) Jewish Religious Philosopher, The Way of Man


By launching those attacks, are we creating more militants than in fact we are killing?

Robert Grenier, Former head of the CIA's counter-terrorism center


During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

George Orwell


Conquered states that have been accustomed to liberty and the government of their own laws can be held by the conqueror in three different ways. The first is to ruin them; the second, for the conqueror to go and reside there in person; and the third is to allow them to continue to live under their own laws, subject to a regular tribute, and to create in them a government of a few, who will keep the country friendly to the conqueror

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince


Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.

George Orwell


If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.

Justice Robert Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States at Nuremberg


An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it

Mohandas Gandhi


There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious-makes you so sick at heart-that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

Mario Savio, Berkeley, December 2, 1964


In the democracy of the dead all men at last are equal. There is neither rank nor station nor prerogative in the republic of the grave

John James Ingalls


Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?

Kahlil Gibran



Lord, Jesus Christ

who reached across the ethnic boundaries between

Samaritan, Roman and Jew,

who offered fresh sight to the blind and freedom to captives,

help us to break down the barriers in our community,

enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry,

and free us to challenge and uproot it from ourselves,

our society, and our world.

Help us to find you in all things and all people.




Embrace me Jesus. Hold me tight.

Keep me from fearing evil,

and from fleeing confrontation with those who distort your word

and narrow the scope of your love.

Release me Jesus.

Send me from the safety and comfort of your embrace,

so I may, in your name and for your sake,

embrace those whose authentic selves have been threatened

and whose love is forbidden.

Make your joy complete in us.

In your holy name, Amen!



In the leaving
in the letting go
let there be this
to hold onto
at the last:

the enduring of love
the persisting of hope
the remembering of joy

the offering of gratitude
the receiving of grace
the blessing of peace.

Jan Richardson



As we probe the mystery of Jesus, Matthew, who does not mention Jesus’ Ascension reassures us that of Jesus’ ongoing presence: ’I will be with you.’ Though having been put to death, he will be experienced as being alive – with them and with us, in them and in us. Luke in The Acts tries to impress upon his community of the urgency about Jesus’ words: ‘You will be my witnesses and you will witness to me in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, even to the ends of the earth. You will be my witnesses.’ Yet this was not happening as expected. When asked ‘Why are you standing around doing nothing? Why are you looking up to the heavens?’ the disciples might ask where should we be looking. Those words are also addressed to every generation as to the Acts’ community.


We heard last week that the ‘advocate’, the Spirit of truth would be offered as comfort but also as challenge – comfort and courage. Consolation or comfort would not be the kind that wraps us up in a warm, fuzzy cocoon where we can feel safe forever but can be compared to the loving nudge a mother bird gives her fledglings in the nest to make them take flight. Fr Timothy Radcliffe says, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit does, thrusting us out of our ecclesiastical nest into mission.’ Recall that in John's gospel, Pentecost occurs when the risen Jesus bears his wounds and breathes the Spirit upon the fearful disciples who were locked behind closed doors (John 20: 19-23). Today’s readings tell us, as the gospels do continually, that this is not where we are meant to be. We are not meant to be locked behind doors in our churches, traditions, nationalism, patriarchy, elitism, clericalism, self-righteous our self-centredness as individuals or as a nation. We are not meant to keep safe and comfortable behind closed doors but looking outwards to where people and planet are. Pope Francis says that each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all are asked to obey the call to go from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the 'peripheries' in need of the light of the Gospel. [The Joy of the Gospel #20.]


Where life is still somewhat comfortable, climate change can seem remote as can the plight of our neighbours in the Pacific, Asia and beyond, as can the needs of unemployed or homeless people. Homelessness is real as is unemployment, climate change, poor health and poor education. They are in our faces but we can turn away, look up into the sky rather than be in solidarity with those in need. They can be off the radar for many of who live lives of comfort and safety.


Jesus told us to go and spread the Word and usher in the Reign of God whilst remembering that he is with us till the end of the world. Since Holy Thursday we have been reminded that the great commandment is to love as we are loved. This love is not a warm glow or feeling but has arms and legs and voices. Like hope and hospitality and compassion it has arms and legs or it is nothing.


This is the essence of God’s reign. This is what makes God’s reign take flesh. On a feast such as this, we must remember that Jesus continues to have flesh. His ‘glorification’ happened in a body. He treated other ‘bodies’ like they mattered: when encountering sick bodies, he healed them; when encountering hungry bodies, he fed them; when encountering bodies that had been pushed to the margins, he brought them back to the centre. The body matters because it is the human being, the locus of human activity and experience…. And the God who took on human flesh and Jesus reveals to us that flesh is good, and flesh is how the Reign of God comes.


The body that Jesus ascends with is not an ideal body but has holes in his wrists and his feet. That body has a spear wound in his belly. His scars are real and it is through those scars and a broken heart that the world enters. Here we have the risen Jesus making good on the promise and declaration that God would be with us.


Those scars are superimposed on our world and the planet that is groaning. Jesus' wounds show us that our wounds, our disability is a way of being human in the world. As the wounded Jesus is the image of God, so are we. If people with any form of disability have been treated as if they are different from other human beings, we are being told today how like Jesus they are. We have a God who bears wounds and scars and this is the only God that matters because it is the only God who is able to be with us.


How is this Reign evident in our lives today? Where can we find the faith of those living the Reign of God? We see it when people put their reputations on the line; when people realise that they not only have too much stuff and share it but also realise that that stuff might be the result of exploitation; when people continue to care for a person who is difficult to live with or work with despite lack of gratitude or acknowledgment; when people protest the harm done to people seeking asylum and whose past wounds and scars are re-opened; when people see what is happening to the environment and traditional lands of First Nation people when mining companies come on the scene, and stand in solidarity and oppose destructive mining; when people call our leaders to account for cutting foreign aid or social security for the vulnerable but spend more and more weapons and the military; when people find the courage to challenge vilification of people in their dining rooms, restaurants, canteens, supermarkets, classrooms or at barbecues for their economic, social, sexual or religious background. Where were they looking? We cannot respond if we look up or away.


Martin Luther King did not look up at the sky when the day before his assassination [April 3, 1968] spoke with passion and hope of a time where the civil rights of African Americans would be respected. Archbishop Oscar Romero did not look up at the sky when moments before his assassination reminded the oppressive government and military of their obligations towards El Salvador’s poor. The people who stood with the Sioux Indians in South Dakota or the Indigenous people whose lands and culture are threatened by mining interests did not look up but at the world around them. These were attempts to incarnate Christ in our world today. Like King and Romero many have and do speak out, write letters, protest, march in the streets, challenge the system, critique prevailing attitudes and stand along aside others who need encouragement. Instead of looking up to the sky, the Spirit has led them down the mountain to engage with the waiting world of people below.


We cannot allow ourselves to remain in relative safety. Jesus never enjoined his followers to keep apart from the world or remain at a safe distance and critique the world. We are to engage in it and sometimes enter ‘hell’ with others so that they might also rise up.


We are not sent out with a rigid ideology or a fully spelled out set of rules, but rather with a spirit and heart that is open to all, that proclaims God’s acceptance and embrace of all.


God has kept Jesus’ promise today: the Spirit has come with power to keep the vision of God’s welcome and acceptance before the church. It has come to make that vision a reality in our hearts and our world as well. .This promise crosses time and space and continues to be realised in the most unlikely places and unlikely ways and unlikely people. There is no need to crane our necks in order to gaze into the heavens waiting for God to do something. It is not about ascending to heaven but of bringing some of the things of heaven to earth, where we desperately need to glimpse of God’s reign.


Rather than craning our necks we need but look around and see the face of Jesus in the cashier at the supermarket who might have nothing to smile about because of her/his low wages, the bus driver who does not respond because he or she expects abuse or being ignored; the person from a different ethnic background who is uneasy amongst us and withdraws. The Spirit will empower us as it did the early church to spread the good news of salvation and liberation to ‘the ends of the earth’. The good news of God's love and embrace in Christ Jesus was, from the beginning to be shared with and open to all people.


The call to baptise is less about numbers, but of awakening in people their dignity, their connectedness with God, their capacity and agency to change the world and their responsibility to be in partnership to bring healing and reconciliation; peace with justice; compassion and sharing. Jesus’ God is not ‘up in heaven’ but in a creative, liberating, and supporting partnership with us. If we want to find God we have to look in the places where the Spirit works in people creating, liberating, and helping. We cannot look to Jesus to do the liberating, making the peace, feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless. It is our responsibility. Building God’s reign is about building a new world. Building that new world might be struggling to get governments out of the war business; not putting our own above others; not allowing ourselves to be part of the violation of the life another person; and to give back to God what belongs to God - all of human life, all of creation, all in its future.


Our spirituality is not one that looks to get out of the world and its challenges. It is a spirituality connected to the world around us - the world of people and nature - a world with rich and poor, men and women, young and old, nature and grace, conflict and reconciliation, war and peace, human rights, conflicts in the law, and complexity in issues of justice.