The Ascension of the Lord (C)
In this world, while there are many people who are choking in affluence and power, there are also very many more people who are suffering and dying because of poverty, violence and oppression. Moreover, a growing significant number of people are living in situations of hopelessness and fear because of others’ (and our) indifference, selfishness and greed. Many of us like to do big projects and talk about big subjects and ideas that we forget that those big things have their foundation on small ways of concern, respect and generosity on account of the needs of our neighbor and the good of all. This is so important for us because these modest ways of good deeds on account of the little ones are the main source of our credibility now and the basis of the Lord’s judgment on us at the end of time.
The world today has taught us what the devil, in the beginning, accomplished in Adam and Eve: to trust in our own capacities and to be gods of our own endeavors. But the devil only leads us to the worship of and lust for material things, as Adam and Eve was led to disobey God’s command. So, we have learned to trust in bailouts, dole outs and convenience so that we do not have to suffer the consequences of our imprudence and thoughtlessness. We have learned to trust in advertisements that many times have brought mess to what we have come to believe as true. We have learned to trust in insurance companies that have associated love of family and control of the future with money. We have learned to trust in wealth that tries to subjugate others to our whims and suppress freedom so as to have dominion over people. Thus, life becomes a power struggle for the affluent and the powerful and a cruel survival of the poor and the voiceless and those without influence in society.
Today’s solemnity is one of the great truths that we proclaim in our Creed: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. This will have meaning in our life only if we become faithful disciples and zealous witnesses to the preaching of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. From where the Church is and from where we are, we continue to be witnesses to His life. Through the Sacraments, the prayer of the Church and our fidelity to Him, we are strengthened, as Jesus has promised: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus ascended to His Father so that He could be present to all and throughout the world. We believe because He lived among us, instituted the Eucharist as a sign of His real presence among us and after His Resurrection was seen by many witnesses who did the works of Jesus and made Him felt in the world. Yes, He is present in His Church. He listens to our cries and sighs, to our joys and laughter, to our outburst of anger and complains, to our pleas and prayers. He knows how to look at us with His eyes and heart full of mercy and love, so that we can realize that we are not the center of attention in this world or the point of reference of everything and everyone, but Him only. His Ascension would also prove that our hope in Him is not in vain, and that in the midst of troubles and situations of indifference and hopelessness, we all walk with Jesus towards Bethany, and He blesses us and strengthens us in our responsibilities and relationships, so that we can also ascend to the holiness that He wants of us, and thus ascend into His Kingdom where all the blessed of the Father are called to share His joy.
Can we go to heaven? This is God’s will, but only if we follow the footsteps of Jesus, if we listen to Him constantly, and if we are faithful to His words. How can the Father refuse us into His Kingdom if we have Jesus with us? By our own capacity alone, we cannot do it. So, He said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (Jn 14:1-3).
To be witnesses of Jesus in this world is to give up our life and our conveniences for the Gospel. In our celebration of the Eucharist, we are invited to commit ourselves again to be faithful to Him in word and deed, in our duties and relationships, at work and at rest.
With Mary, our great intercessor, let us ask the Lord to send us the Holy Spirit to enkindle in us the fire of His love. Let the Eucharist that we partake of be our joy and strength to bring His Good News to our families and to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.