Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. The Ascension is the day that Jesus first commissions the Apostles to make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He then ascends into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God.
Let’s take a look at a hypothetical conversation between Jesus and the angel Gabriel during Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
Jesus is met by the angel Gabriel who asks him, “Now that your work is finished, what plans have you made to ensure that the truth that you brought to earth will spread throughout the world?”
Jesus answered, “I have called some fishermen and tax-collectors to walk along with me as I did my Father’s will.”
“Yes, I know about them,” said Gabriel, “but what other plans have you made?”
Jesus replied, “I taught Peter, James and John about the kingdom of God; I taught Thomas about faith; and all of them were with me as I healed and preached to the multitudes.”
Gabriel replied, “But you know how unreliable that lot was. Surely you must have other plans to make sure your work was not in vain.”
Jesus quietly replied to Gabriel, “I have no other plans. I am depending on them!!”
When someone says to you that they are depending on you, don’t you feel more driven to help? You don’t want to let that person down. You rise to the occasion. That is exactly what happened to the Apostles. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit and rose to the occasion to not let Jesus down. They grew spiritually to the point where their will aligned with the will of God, so much so that they willingly gave up their life to keep the mission of Jesus alive.
Jesus and therefore God the Father believed not only in the Apostles but also in our ability to carry on the ministry Jesus started. As imperfect as the Apostles were, they rose to the occasion. They went from running away when Jesus was arrested to laying down their lives. How did this metamorphosis happen?
In one week we will be celebrating Pentecost. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of God, descends upon the Apostles who will be with them throughout their ministry empowering them and guiding them to be the light of Christ for all those they meet.
The Ascension and Pentecost are the culmination of the Easter Season. We are reminded during the Easter Season of our own commissioning like that of the
Apostles to be the light of Christ to all those we meet throughout our lives. Through our Baptism and Confirmation, the Holy Spirit also descends upon us and empowers us to carry-on the mission of Jesus to bring the Word of God and his message of love, mercy and forgiveness to all peoples just like the Apostles on Pentecost.
That is a mouthful and a challenging expectation of our faith to live by. So what does that mean to us in our daily lives? Pope Francis said that through the Ascension, Jesus being human brought humanity to heaven. He opened the gates for us and God is welcoming us home. But just as Jesus entered heaven through his humanity with Body and Soul, we must enter through him. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. We can only come to the Father through him.
We are to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. Yes, that is a tall order, but that is why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Have you ever taken the time to think about the Holy Spirit dwelling within you? It gives me chills to think about our God loving us so much that He wants us to be a temple, a home for the Holy Spirit, a place for God himself to dwell. I have a hard time putting my head around that. That is the type of love we are being asked to emulate. If God believes we can emulate His love, through His help, how do we say no to that calling? So we must remember that God has created us and provides us the strength we need to be the light of Christ to others, to bring his message of love, mercy and forgiveness to all peoples.
So even if you say OK, I am willing, your next question may be, now where do I start? We are first and foremost a child of God. We start with giving God all our love and attention. We then come to realize that to love God fully and completely, we must love our neighbors, for God is found in them. We are also children of our earthly parents. To love God we must love and respect our parents as Jesus did Joseph and Mary. This relationship of loving God continues with all our relationships such as siblings, spouse, children, extended family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, people we pass on the street, and all the people of the world we will never meet. Through God all things are possible. Remember, God has chosen to dwell within us. How can we lose?
I bet it still sounds a bit overwhelming. Put into perspective, we are called to make a difference through how we live our lives. Think about the example of Jesus. Jesus worked hard as a carpenter to support his family. A good day’s work for a fair wage. Do we live that example? Jesus was a faith-filled man, always honoring God the Father through all aspects of his life. How do we honor God? He helped those he met throughout his life, made clear to us through the scriptures. How about us?
Some people may say that Jesus could make a monumental impact on the world because he was also divine. Yes, he did raise people from the dead, cure the sick, and turn water into wine. But, he has empowered us through the Holy Spirit to make a difference in the world. There is nothing more powerful than love, as God is love. If we expose others to the all-powerful love of God, they will be healed, if not physically, then in a spiritual way that will bring them the peace of God in their lives.
What greater gift can we give to someone then the source of all love, mercy and forgiveness? We start by having people experience Christ through us such as through a smile, a helping hand, a kind word, any gesture that shows them we care. Live your life expressed through loving acts and be amazed what God can do through y