SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD’S ASCENSION
(White) Cycle C/Year II (May 8, 2016)
Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-29; Lk 24:46-53
After showing to His disciples His healed wounds caused by the crucifixion, explaining to them the teachings of the bible about Himself as the Savior, and commissioning them as witnesses of these things, Jesus blessed them and then ascended into heaven. The ascension of Jesus into heaven is not a sad event for all Christians but rather good news. It is not the end of the presence of Christ to His disciples but rather a beginning.
To understand the happy ending of Christ’s physical presence on earth, we must distinguish between disappearance and departure. Jesus did not depart from us during His ascension. To depart means to leave. Jesus simply disappears from our naked eyes to be beheld only by our eyes of faith. After the ascension, Jesus assumes another kind of presence on earth; it is not anymore physical but spiritual and even sacramental. Whenever we are gathered in prayer, Jesus is in the midst of us. Whenever we read the bible or hear the gospel proclaimed, Jesus Christ is talking to us. Whenever a sacrament is being celebrated by a priest, Jesus Christ is present to us through the presence of the priest. Whenever we celebrate the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ is truly present to us sacramentally. In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is present in His humanity and divinity, both in His body and spirit.
Jesus then ascends into heaven but He never leaves us. He is always present to us to accompany us in our journey through life, the way He accompanied His two disciples on the road to Emmaus. As disciples of Jesus, we know and believe that Jesus suffered, died and rose again for our sake and for our salvation. Jesus has commissioned us to be witnesses of what He has done for us. The apostles became witness of Jesus to those who came after them. The Christians who came before us were witnesses of Jesus to us. Now, it is our turn to be witnesses of Jesus to our contemporaries and to those who will come after us. It is then our obligation to proclaim the good news of salvation to others in the best way we can.
There is no need for us to go from one place to another or from one nation to another just to proclaim the gospel of Christ. Others, particularly the religious missionaries perform this. But for the majority of us, we are called to proclaim the good news of salvation only within our homes, working places, and neighborhood. By treating with love and compassion our companions at home, at work and at our community, we show Jesus Christ to them. We are also called to proclaim the love of God by using the modern means of communication: the radio, television, computer, cellular phone, internet, and others. With all these modern media, we can proclaim the love of God to the whole world.
In this modern world, we have all the means to proclaim the message of God to others. There is then no excuse for us not to fulfill our mission of being witnesses of Christ to others. We have to proclaim our faith with conviction that, indeed, Jesus is risen and has ascended into heaven. He waits for us and He prepares a place for those who have been faithful to His teachings and responsible to the mission He has entrusted to us.