Column from this weekend’s parish bulletin
The Ascension of the Lord
May 8, 2016
Dear Believers in the Christ,
We celebrate today to The Ascension of the Lord. This feast is inseparable from Pentecost that we will celebrate next weekend. Both of these feasts conclude the mighty fifty days of Easter.
In Luke’s gospel today, we hear Jesus say, “You are witnesses of these things.” “These things are the events of Jesus’ life on earth. These are the keys to our faith that Jesus receives our suffering and redeems us in his death and resurrection. As Jesus once left the earth to ascend to the Father, we know we must keep alive his mission on earth. His mission is to love. His mission is to walk with people on the earth and to bring them to the fullest possible life, the life of compassion, peace, and mercy and moments of deep joy.
We know that the Ascension makes ready for the coming of the Holy Spirit next week. Jesus does not abandon us on earth, but gives us the Holy Spirit in the gift of our baptism and confirmation. The Ascension is the feast where we reflect on the mission of Jesus who once walked the face of the earth and try to but into practice what he wanted for people.
We are witnesses to his life and we need to get off the couch and live the mystery we celebrate. There is much to do in the mission of the Church. We are to live the compassion toward our enemies that Jesus has for each of us. We are to reach beyond our selfishness and extend a hand to people in need because Jesus taught us to wash one another’s feet. We are to reflect the love that we receive from him in our prayer toward a world that feels abandoned, afraid and disenfranchised. We not only witness the passion, death and resurrection but we live it with our fragile hearts every day.
We cannot be witnesses to something we never experience. So we need to pray. We need time to sit in the mystery of life, to ponder it’s meaning, to read the scriptures and to offer to God the deep hurts and wounds of daily living. We need to come to the sacraments especially the Mass and confession. We need help discovering the love God has for us.
There are so few people in the Catholic Church who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Church is not about the externals. The Church only means something if we have the foundation of knowing and witnessing whom Jesus really is. I invite you into prayer. I invite you to sort through the chaos of your life. I invite you to ponder how you need to change. I want in the worst way a parish filled with people who are witnesses of Jesus’ love because every person knows Jesus.
“You are witnesses of these things.” Yes, we are! We know that faith is transformative, that prayer changes our hearts, that hope overrides despair, and that loneliness can be made into true communion with God, that peace can prevail if we take seriously the life and words of Jesus.
Last Sunday in my homily at Sacred Heart, I gave people homework for next week on Pentecost. Here is your assignment for the parish as we prepare for Pentecost!
On Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Spirit. We know the gift of love, mercy, compassion and the guidance we need to live a full, beautiful life. So here is what we all need from each other:
- Pray for everything you need in your life this week as we prepare for Pentecost. Do not leave anything out. Ask for everything! Be bold in your prayer. Be solid in your asking for what you truly desire in life.
- Then, pray for the needs of our parish community. Ask for everything! If you do not know how people are suffering, then ask them! Invite the Holy Spirit into our parish to love us, to challenge us, to console us, to heal us and to give us a true desire to love God and serve people.
- Then, pray for the needs of the world. Ask for everything that will give us hope! Ask for all the big things like peace, clean water and food for people. Ask the big things because we know the Holy Spirit is not dead.
I believe in Jesus and we are all witnesses to his love for us. Pray this week for the renewal of all life and the coming again of the Holy Spirit. We are not orphans in our world after Jesus’ departure. We are God’s plan for a new world.