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The Ascension of the Lord

May 25, 2017
Deacon Faiva Po’oi

When Jesus was taken up to heaven and took his seat at the right hand of the Father, some may think that he abandoned his disciples. One Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults candidate who had just received the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist believed this to be true. But in the ascension of the Lord, we see the risen Lord presenting himself in a new way, continuing the saving mission given him by the Father.

There are two significant points in this feast of the Ascension. The first is that of Jesus entering into his eternal glory. The second is that of his disciples – each of us – taking on his special mission through our baptismal and confirmation call. The ascension is a fulfillment of the divine plan of salvation for all people and changes the way in which Jesus is present in the world. He is now present through us, his followers.

It also marks a change as to how Jesus is active in our world. Jesus no longer acts through the parts – the members – of his physical body, but rather through the members of his mystical body. In other words, Jesus no longer acts by using his own voice to address people, his own human heart to love people, and his own human hands to reach out to others. Rather, he acts through us, his disciples. He uses our voices to proclaim the Gospel to all people, our hearts to love our neighbors, and our hands to reach out to people.

This change, however, does not mean that he has abandoned us nor that we are on our own. Instead, we preach with Jesus’ power and life, and it is to Jesus we look in order to live, to minister, and to preach effectively. In Ephesians 4, we read that a disciple cannot effectively “preach the Gospel” without the virtues of humility, gentleness, patience and love. We also learn that unity, peace, and hope are signs of the presence of the Spirit.

With his ascension, the risen Christ passed on to us the responsibility and the privilege of letting him continue to speak, love and reach – through us – to all those in need in our modern world. This is the mystery that we celebrate in this feast. This is the challenge that Scripture holds out to us today.

And so, for each of us, the feast of the Ascension is both a challenge and a consolation. Jesus challenges us to follow his commandment and direction for journeying to our eternal destination. As a consolation, Jesus also reminds us he is with us every step of the way. This is the message of today’s feast. This is the assurance we celebrate on his feast. We celebrate the mystery of Jesus’ new presence among us in his spiritual body the church. We also celebrate the commission Jesus gives us to witness to him to all nations. This is the good news of the Ascension.

We are empowered by Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden… in the same way let your light so shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16).

May the holy Eucharist help us to listen and do what Christ has commissioned us to do.

Po’oi_Deacon Favia - web 100x125Deacon Po’oi serves at St. Timothy Parish, San Mateo.

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