Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ascencion Sunday (Cycle A)

    This Sunday we are celebrating the feast of the Ascension, the day in which our Lord Jesus Christ departed from the physical presence of His disciples to return back to the Father All Mighty in body and spirit. Every year this feast day falls around the time in which a lot of families are involved with graduation ceremonies. I myself went to two graduations this past week, so I know that although they might not want to admit it many parents and children have it in their minds that in a very short 8-12 weeks these graduates whom we have been celebrating will be leaving their homes to start new lives as college students.
   I bring this up because as I was reflecting on the image of the Apostles worshiping the Lord while interiorly struggling with their own doubts, I kept remembering when my own child left for college. You see many people think that when the gospel reading says that the apostles worshiped but doubted it means that somehow they were not sure if the person in front of them was in fact the Lord. However, It occurred to me that perhaps the real reason for the apostles doubts was  because they did not know what they were going to do now that they were going to be left all by themselves.
   Separation from the ones we love either because of reasons we cannot control or because we have to let them follow their own path in life, could be a source of deep doubt and fear. A parent that is left with an “empty nest”, a child that is starting a new life away from the protection and comfort of all that is familiar, a spouse who suddenly finds him or herself alone once again will inevitably experience these feelings.
    Fear and doubt are part of been human. Jesus knew very well what His friends were feeling, and what everyone of us feels every time we experience separation; so the last words that the Lord ever spoke with His human voice, recorded in Saint Mathew’s Gospel, were words not only spoken for His friends, but for every person who ever found experiencing loss of a loved one: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me…I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Time and distance mean nothing to Him, even if we feel that separation and absence hammers a wedge between us and our loved ones, with Jesus we can overcome anything. We are never truly alone. With our Lord Jesus we have no reason for fear and doubt because with the power that has been given to Him, there is not distance or period of time we cannot overcome.
     To me these finals words of Jesus are a source of great consolation whenever I am assaulted by doubt and loneliness. However these are not the only words Jesus spoke to his disciples, and to us, he also said “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The Lord Jesus wants us to do something better with our time than just feel sorry for ourselves. He wants us, those who stay home and those who depart to always, wherever we might be, at any time to be witnesses of His power to the nations. To quote Pope Francis “The Lord does not want sourpuss Christians” cowering in a corner, feeling sorry for themselves.
   The mystery we celebrate in the feast of the Ascension of our Lord has been called the greatest mystery of his life! How He by departing still remains with us, and now gives us power to be His witnesses. It is a mystery that speaks about having to let go so that we can encounter the resurrected Lord, and gain a whole world for Himself; disregarding any sense of fear or doubt.  It is a mystery about having to say goodbye, so that we can find Him, so that we can fulfill our destiny as Christians: In our homes, in our schools, even to ends of the world.
   I would like to finish today by congratulating all graduates, and by reminding them of the words Jesus spoke in the Gospel today. You will never be left alone, you are now sent on a mission to bring Jesus to those who don’t know him, never forget who sent you. God bless you all!

"Viva Cristo Rey!!"