Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Luke 24:46-53
During the introduction of the movie entitled: “Intersection,” starring Richard Gere and Sharon Stone, I saw in the screen of the movie house, these words: “If today is the last day of your life, what would you change? What would you love? What would you decide?” If we were asked by the same question, what would be our answer?
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. When we hear the word ‘ascension,’ we immediately think of ‘up’ and that is what makes us confused when we talk about Jesus’ ascension forty days after His Resurrection from the dead.
To think of His Ascension as a ‘going up’ is natural. In the Apostles’ Creed, we affirm this idea of ‘going up’, when we pray: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
But what is ascension all about? It means that in the incarnation event, Jesus became man by the power of the Holy Spirit through Mary. Ascension was not a despedida (farewell) party for Jesus. That Jesus will not come back or the termination of His redemptive works. Rather, it was His hour of glorification by the Father, The time for His physical and visible presence in our midst was completed but the time for His presence in its invisible and sacramental dimension has just started.
Even though Christ is no longer present to us physically and visibly, He is still here with us because He said: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers (and sisters), you do unto me.” He too said: “Whenever you gather in my name, I am in your midst.” In the consecration of the Eucharist, the priest pronounces: “This is my Body…This is my Blood.” Indeed, the host and the wine become Christ’s Body and Blood.
The time for preparing His apostles for their mission of establishing His Church was over while the time for their participation in continuing that mission has just started also.
In other words, His ascension was not just a farewell or the despedida for Jesus but the handing of His followers’ mission.
What is this mission? This mission is no other than sharing the love of Jesus, to change the hearts of people, to witness to Christ in the world, preach the Good News that God has saved us and to lead them to repentance. But where and to whom do we evangelize?
There was once a stained glass window, as told by a priest in his homily, which depicted the ascending Christ with clouds and open heavens and angels. Below that image were inscribed the words: “Glory to God in the Highest.”
However, some had thrown a stone and knocked out the “E” in the word “Highest.” So the sentence read, “Glory to God in the High st.” Actually, this is the place where we are going to preach Jesus Christ and His message of salvation – on Alunan St., on Rizal St., Quirino St. and even along the street.
What is this love of Jesus that we should share? I was once giving a recollection to a group of fourth year high school students when I was still a third seminarian in one of the schools in Cagayan de Oro City. A lady asked me why I entered the seminary. In told her: “I don’t know.” Before I answered her I asked the group this question: “What is your favorite actor or actress?” Most of them gave their own favorite actors and actresses and asked them why. They gave also their reasons why they chose such actor or actress. In return, they asked me about me. I answered them: “Jesus Christ.” They chorused, “Why?” I told them: “Because He loves me so much. His love for me is unconditional, that is, without condition and without restriction. He loves me not because I love Him. He loves me even if I don’t like and love Him in return.”
So the love that we should share is the unconditional love of Jesus.
Why we should continue the mission of Jesus, that is, to change the hearts of people? There was a story about the priest and the taxi driver. When both died the two went to heaven. The priest complained: “Why are you bringing this man here? He seldom attend Mass, he seldom prays?” Peter answered: “When you deliver a homily, most of your parishioners got asleep. While this driver, he drives very fast, many of his passengers got to pray their rosary and pray to God that they may not meet an accident.”
Anyway, the heart of that priest even if he is already in heaven is still filled with envy and hatred. To tell you frankly our hearts are full of hatred or our inability to forgive especially our past experience with a certain person. . It is full of envy. We become jealous. Persons who are jealous remember, are not in peace. They are in constant trouble. Our heart is full of anger. So what happened to us, we got high blood pressure. It is full of resentment and timidity. I think we need a by-passed operation of our heart so that hatred, envy, anger, resentment and timidity will be removed. What remains is a changed heart full of love and compassion.
To lead the people to repentance is another mission of ours that we should fulfill as we go through with our Christian commitment.
So my dear friends, since everything comes to an end, whatever good we can do, let us do it today. If you have to apologize or forgive someone, do it now. If you need to love and give thanks to someone, do it now, for tomorrow may never come. I believe more souls go to hell not because they are bad but because they defer doping good things.
This Feast of The Lord’s Ascension is also the feast of our mission. Are we faithful to our mission?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C