Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord  

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

Forty days ago, we celebrated Easter Sunday with joyful singing and reverence. In fact, we continue to commemorate the Easter Season until today which coincides with the traditional commemoration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. The readings this weekend bring us a hint of what was it like for the Apostles to be witnesses of those marvelous events in the life of the Son of God. It must have been overwhelming and awe-inspiring to decipher and comprehend the entire drama of the Paschal Mystery. The culmination of the physical presence of the historical Jesus happens today based on the facts and traditions as narrated to us in the Scriptures. What, then, should be the significance of these stories while we hear them today in the context of the political, social, economic, and moral stance of the world as we continue to strive to respond to Jesus’ call to discipleship? I think that our responsibility as Christians of today is to sincerely evaluate our role as participants rather than just being passive spectators of God’s work of salvation. Yes, our choices and priorities are those which determine our interest and total involvement to the mission of Jesus Christ which gauges our seriousness about living out the Gospel values.

The physical absence of Jesus in the Church that He founded upon the Apostles is the most viable verification of our faith. We believe in the invisible and yet verifiable through the unfolding of events that constantly happen in our lives. On the other hand, it looks like our minds are simply conditioned to believing in something that is physically absent without any tangible proof of existence. Many have lost the ability of transcending the ordinariness of daily life events that are loaded with the presence of the Divine. Unfortunately, this seems to be the dilemma of many who opt to base the validity of the Christian religion simply on the realities that are associated with one’s physical productivity. Where do we stand in terms of our profession of faith with Someone who, though physically absent, remains spiritually present?

I am writing you today about my personal experience in the ministry based on my encounter with some who, though they profess out loud their Catholicity, seem to be lacking the profundity of an encounter with Jesus Christ. Plenty of people have become so traditional through time in such a way that the definition of their Christian faith revolves simply around Sunday Mass. These are the folks who do not want to be associated with any parishioners nor participate in any parish activities. They give a Sunday offering based on the custom of almsgiving. They say their devotional prayers according to their habitual routine of each day. But they do not want to be a part of any faith formation program nor of any services that the parish offers for the poor or the development of parish ministries. They tend to do the minimal because, accordingly, they have no time.

There is another group that tends to be so active in preparing and participating in parish events and organizations, but they seem uninterested in the prayer life of the community. They come to organizational meetings and fundraising and social action planners, but Sunday Mass seems to them to be just another option. Accordingly, the liturgy and devotions do not fit their schedule.

There are quite a few, however, who amid their busy schedules, choose to participate both in the social life and in the spiritual life of the parish. They are the ones who along their spiritual journey have encountered the meaning of life in the spirit of the Gospel. They, too, are in the process of perfecting their response to the invitation of Jesus to discipleship. In one way or another, everyone is called to be a witness of the risen Christ who ascended into heaven, by living out a balanced connection with God and neighbor. Do our priorities align with any of these scenarios? Perhaps we can seek to deepen the meaning of our response to Christian discipleship.

It is very tempting to see the Ascension of Jesus as an event that summarizes everything that happened in Jerusalem during that first Paschal Triduum. I recommend that we consider seeing His ascension to God’s bosom as the ratification of our adoption as children of the Father by virtue of our participation in baptism offered to us by the Death and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This ascension of Christ should give us more confidence to do good, to become instruments of reconciliation and peace, to become bearers of glad tidings and liberty to those who live in captivity and to be collaborators in the mission of Jesus in re-building the Church as a continuation of His mission. Are we interested in becoming participants in this process?

I will leave the decision up to you; for after all, it will be our personal priorities that determine whether we are fully engaged in this project that Jesus has left us until His return. “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

See you next weekend

Sincerely in Christ and Mary,