I hope everyone is safe and well.
The season of Easter is nearly at an end. The past Thursday, the 40 days of Easter supposedly the feast of the Ascension. Today is Seventh Sunday of Easter. But instead of celebrating this seventh Sunday of Easter, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension.
As we commemorate this event in the life of Jesus, we are reminded of one thing, life does not consist of dreaming, hoping and looking upward to our final destination. It also reminds about looking down and around and responding to the needs of our surrounding.
In our first reading today, narrates that the disciples gathered with Jesus for the last time on this earth. They still didn’t understand what Jesus is telling them all about. But in the midst of their confusion, Jesus was “lifted up before their eyes in a cloud which took Him from their sight.” They remained “gazing up into heaven.” They might think, What to do now? What will become of them?
Yes, ascension means that Christ is gone. He is no longer with us physically to protect and help us in our struggle. Though he is leaving he assures us that he is staying with us. In the Gospel of St. Matthew Jesus promised us that: “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world, ” (28: 20). In other words, though He was physically gone but we are never alone. The Lord is with us in our midst. In the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, he pictured out this closeness. Christ is the Head of His Church; that means He is transcendent, high above us and different from us. But at the same time we are His Body and members of His Body, the Church; this means, he is existing, close to us and part of us. Jesus cares for us. He does not abandon us.
The angels tell the disciples in these similar words: “Do not waste time looking up to heaven! Act now! But use the time that Christ has given to us from now on up to the time where Christ will come again. This is the only time that is given to us before it is too late.”
In these words of angels, two things become clear:
First, Christian is never called to be mere passive spectators of Jesus. We have a mission and a work to do, that is, the mission of making disciples all the people through preaching the Good News and to spread our faith. Jesus commissioned them and us to complete the work He had begun. In the first reading, Jesus tells His disciples to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1: 8). And in the gospel reading He tells them to be His evangelizers, ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, ‘ (Mt. 28: 19) and to be His teachers to the world. He says, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, ” (Mt. 28: 20). This mission comes from Jesus Himself. The question now for us to reflect is this: What have we done in order to help spread the light of Christ in our home, in our country and in the world in general? Have we brought anybody to be closer to God? Have we introduced Jesus to our friends when we talk to them. Have people become better because of our presence?
Second is the element of hope. Jesus said: “I am with you always until the end of the world. ” He is not abandoning us, His followers. He has to return to the Father so that the Spirit can be sent and be present in us.
Once he was glorified in heaven, he would belong to everyone willing to accept him as their Lord. From now on, we, his people, have to be his shape and face, his heartbeat, his helping hand, his smile, his strength that often looks powerless. Don’t be afraid: He has promised to be with us until the end of time, as he is here with us now in this Eucharist.
Let us always remember that whenever we read the Word of God, break His bread, gather to pray in His name and minister to the least of His brethren, we experience His being-with-us, here and now. Whenever we deny ourselves for Him, carrying our cross after Him or suffer persecution because of His name, we know that He is with us to support, encourage and inspire us.
As we continue with the mass, let us pray that we can faithfully fulfill our mission. Remember that the feast of the Ascension is also the feast of our mission, “Believe what you read, teach what you believe and live it.