Sunday, May 8, 2016

May 8, 2016: Ascension of the Lord C (Mother’s Day)

May 8, 2016: Ascension of the Lord C (Mother’s Day)
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension and Mother’s Day. I thank all the mothers here for their love, guidance, and influence you offer your children, for you are the anchor for your children as they make their journey through life. In a special way, we honor our Heavenly Mother, Mary, who brings us closer to her Son during our earthly life. Mary was the divinely chosen mother of our Lord and a model of discipleship. St. John Paul II said, “From Mary we learn to surrender to God's Will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God!”
Many of us know through personal experience that the departure of a loved one from earthly life fills us with great sadness. The grieving process is long and arduous, but eventually we gain peace and cherish the memories. The departure of Jesus from the disciples was different. The scripture said when Jesus was taken up to Heaven, “They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” The disciples did not lament the physical absence of Jesus, for they firmly believed in Jesus’ promise that Father would send them the Holy Spirit.
Thus the Ascension of Our Lord celebrates the new way Christ became present to his people through the gift of his Spirit. For sure, Christ went away from us so that we no longer experience his physical presence, but he is closer to us now than he ever was before. He is present to us in an equally powerful but different manner. We can turn to him in any place, in any situation knowing he is there for us. It is important to realize that the apostles and disciples never regretted the departure of Jesus after his Ascension.
This feast day is the hope of our glorification and a guarantee to meet our Lord in heaven. It is a reminder that our true home is in heaven. Our Lord asks us to look beyond this world to the destiny which we are to share with Christ in heaven. Thus, this world can only be a place of temporary refuge; a place of pilgrimage and not our true home.
Moreover, this feast of the Ascension is also a reminder for all of us, not just of what awaits us when we die, but also what we need to do while still on earth. Jesus before his Ascension commissioned his disciples, and us too, to be his witnesses and carry out his mission to the ends of the earth till his return. A big task indeed. But before we can proclaim Jesus to others, our first task is to make sure that we make Jesus the Lord of our own hearts. This we can do by prayerfully reflecting on his words and by living according to his teachings and commandments. We have to make time to become more and more like Christ in everything. Then we can proclaim the Good News to others not only through our words and deeds, but also through our lives, so that Jesus will also reign in their hearts and one day we all will be with him in heaven. Mother Teresa summarizes this point beautifully,
“Christ prays in me, Christ works in me, Christ thinks in me, Christ looks through my eyes, Christ speaks through my words, Christ works with my hands, Christ walks with my feet, Christ loves with my heart. As St Paul’s prayer was: ‘I belong to Christ and nothing will separate me from the love of Christ.’ It was that oneness, oneness with God in the Holy Spirit.”
Today we honor our mothers who instilled in us the necessity of prayer and faith; and how to be disciples of selfless giving and sacrifice. Let us take Mother Teresa’s words to prayer this week, asking Our Lord to work in us and through us.