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In the year 2029, Elon Musk hopes to send the first person to Mars. Who wants to be that first person? Not me. Would anybody go to Mars if he had a chance? All right. We got one volunteer and a couple of exciting people. Look at that. Well, his plan is not just to send somebody to Mars, but he wants to colonize Mars. He wants to colonize Mars in case an asteroid comes and destroys Earth. We could have people living on Mars and be an interplanetary species. That’s his plan.  He wants to start that in 2029.  It would probably take some time after that to fully colonize it. 

Something really exciting happened with the Ascension.  Jesus was before his disciples, and he ascended into heaven. He became the first human being to enter heaven, the first person fully divine and fully human. He doesn’t enter into heaven in the Ascension just for himself. He wants to colonize heaven. He wants to make heaven the eternal home where all of us can be together. How many of us want to go to heaven? All right, most of you out there.

He tells us in the Feast of the Ascension. He tells us that before he departs, he says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the earth.” He promises us that even when this earth ends, he will always be with us. The Ascension is not a time of him leaving or departing from us. The Ascension is rather him ascending to the right hand of the Father because he’s so joined to us and takes us with him. We are the body of Christ on earth. He is the head. If the head is ascended to heaven, the body will join it. He says, “I will sit at the Father’s right hand,” and he says something to the disciples. “I will give you all power and authority and baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I want you to go out to the world and baptize everyone so we can have this colony in heaven.”

John Paul once said that hell is the existence of other people. Sometimes we think that, right? But it’s quite the opposite. Heaven is the existence of other people. We experience heaven at this Mass because the body of Christ comes together. We are gathered as one. Not only does he commission them, but he gives them power and authority. 

Sometimes we have trouble with that word, authority because we think of an authoritarian figure. Maybe we’ve had bad authority figures in our lives, principals or parents or whoever that may be. Authority comes from the word authorship. The word authority means to author. God is offering the story of creation, all of creation throughout our lives, and the author wants to bring us to heaven. He tells the people, “I give you power and authority.” 

I think one of the greatest authorities right now in space travel is Elon Musk, right? He’s doing better than NASA ever did. He’s sending up rockets left and right and doing it for a fraction of the price, and they’re landing back down. It’s amazing. He gives us authority, too. The greatest thing we can ever do on this earth, the greatest contribution we could bring to human history, would be to become a saint. Because saints have the greatest authority. It’s saints that help author and tell the story of God’s life in our world today.

This is something that we should all aspire to. We should all aspire to become saints because that will give us the greatest authority here on earth. Authority is not just about power and lauding it over somebody. Authority is participating in God’s plan in such a way that it will have the greatest impact and bring the most people to Christ. You are commissioned from your baptism to go out into the world, to bring other people into the faith, to give people this opportunity to become a citizen of heaven so that one day we can colonize heaven so that heaven and earth can become one together. Think about that. In your life, how has God called you to be a saint? In what way, uniquely to you, special to you, could you be a saint that nobody else could? You, by discovering this and living this out, will have a greater impact on humanity than colonizing Mars. Your impact by being a saint will draw not only you to heaven but your family to heaven, your friends to heaven, and everyone you come into contact with. That’s your call. That’s the commission we’re given today as we celebrate this Feast of the Ascension. 

Let Jesus invite you now into that mission. Let him invite you to this great expedition into heaven, where we become his authority here on earth. He reminds us that “I am with you always, even unto the end of the ages.” Just as we heard in the Incarnation, where God was named Emmanuel, God is with us. In the Ascension, he does not leave us. He says, “I am with you always,” but I’m drawing you to something greater. I’m drawing you not to the kingdom of this earth but to the Kingdom of Heaven. He’s giving you the authority to become a saint so we can all get there one day. Remember, hell isn’t the existence of other people. Heaven is the existence of other people, the existence of us all drawn together as the body of Christ, where he is the head who has gone before us.