The Ascension of the Lord
May 21, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Acts 1:1-11 / Ps 47 / Eph 1:17-23 / Mt 28:16-20
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
There is an old saying: “Words push; examples pull.” Someone adds: Any good Christian is a walking Bible. Even though he has never quoted a verse, in fact, good Christian example may be the only gospel illiterate people can read.
In other words, brothers and sisters, even if we speak convincingly, even if we speak a lot, if our actions contradict what we are saying, then nothing happens. Even if we convince people, we cannot fool God, who knows and sees everything in what we are doing.
Today we are celebrating the feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven. That is, He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, as the Apostles’ Creed tells us.
After Jesus gathered His disciples in Galilee for their last time with His physical presence, He instructed them on what to do. He ascended into heaven to be with His Father, who is also our Father. His ascension into heaven is a sign that His life here on earth has ended. He ends also His teaching and suffering here on earth.
Hence, His ascension was not just a farewell party for Him. Above all, it is the giving of unfinished business: that is, His mission which He entrusted to His apostles and also to all of us. He expects us to continue this mission. But what is this mission?
This mission is not new to us. It has existed for more than two thousand years. This mission is not only given to a few people but to all of us. And it is, in three parts: To witness to Christ in the world. To preach the good news that God redeemed us. And to show by our love that He is always with us.
The first part of our mission is to witness to Christ in the world. Jesus said, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:16). But how? Through our prayer and worship, loving concern, and care for others.
Somebody commented that he will not join any church organizations, nor he will go to church anymore, because, as he observed, those who serve in church, or those people who go to church every day, they remain the same. Nothing happens; nothing new. They’re still in their old self and old ways. And furthermore, he continued by saying, “Sad to say, some are even becoming worse.”
The answer to that, brothers and sisters, is that we should not base our conversion and change on the behavior and deeds of others. But there is some truth to what he said. That is why that, if we enter into this kind of life, a Christian life, more is expected from us. If our life before was not pleasing to God, hopefully, now that we are coming back to church, now that we pray always, we have been changed.
The second part of our mission is to preach the good news that God redeemed us. But how can we preach to other people if we do not know what to preach? How can we give to other people if we don’t have anything to give? That is why our parish and our diocese give training, education, and other programs in order for us to prepare for this this second part of the mission.
We know that nowadays, the most popular way to spread news is through social media. So let us try to use social media in spreading good news. Blessed Carlo Acutis was beatified by Pope Francis on October 10, 2020. He was a fifteen-year-old Italian computer whiz and website designer, who was known for documenting Eucharistic miracles around the world and cataloguing them onto a website. So in his youth, he offered his life, his knowledge, in spreading the love of God to the world by gathering all those Eucharistic miracles all over the world and putting it on a website.
I encourage all of us, especially our young people: Use computers, use social media in spreading God’s love and God’s word to the world. Use it in bringing others closer to Jesus.
That’s why Blessed Carlo Acutis is now a patron saint for young computer programmers. His motto was: “To be always united with Jesus. This is my plan of life.” How beautiful it is, a fifteen-year-old person who desired to be with Jesus always. Using his own gift that the Lord had given to him, he used it for God’s glory by spreading God’s love to the world. Young people, make Carlo Acutis your patron saint. Imitate him. Make him your inspiration in following Jesus.
The third part of our mission is to show by our love that He’s always with us. But how? We can do it through the testimony of our daily living. We can be witnesses to Christ in our homes, in our workplaces, in our schools, and in the whole world. We do it by simply making an effort to become the kind of person Jesus teaches us to be. We witness to Jesus and teach others by our love when others need us; by our patience when others annoy us; by our forgiveness when others wrong us; and by our perseverance when we feel like quitting.
So brothers and sisters, in this Mass, let us pray that we can faithfully fulfill our mission. And always remember this: Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. And live what you teach.
May Jesus Christ be praised.