ASCENSION (ACTS 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mt 28:16-20) by Fr. M. Lusembo
Objective: That we may take preparation for heaven as our priority number one.
Each Sunday we profess through the Creed, “He ascended into heaven.” Today we are commemorating that event. “As they were looking on, Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight”, so we have learnt from the Acts of the Apostles 1:9.
It was the gloriously restored body of Christ that ascended. This is what, now and forever, is a living, participating part of God. Through Christ humanity is joined to God. This shows the importance of the human body and earthly life in the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation.
Jesus is now seated at the right hand of his Father, welcoming saints in heaven, who are the fruits of his hard labor.
At the same time, he is controlling the continuing work of salvation through his Spirit. Thus the Paschal Mystery of Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection, ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit forms one unbroken reality which is to be understood by faith. It exemplifies the process we have to go through in order to accomplish our own mission here on earth, as we prepare for heaven.
Christ has made it. He has left us a mission which we have to accomplish, if we want to join him in heaven: We have to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. Christ says, listen: “Be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8);
He adds: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark.16:15). Thus we have the mission of bearing witness to him by preaching and living the good news.
That mission was entrusted not only to priests and religious, but to everybody, including me and you. We are called by Jesus to preach the Good News where we live and work, by showing Christian love, charity, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, honesty, faithfulness, prayerfulness and by helping the people to read the Bible, to go to Mass and other sacraments, emailing and texting verses from the Bible.
One of the messages we can spread around is the question: Suppose the Lord calls you now, are you fit to ascend with Him in heaven? Let us start with the people nearest to us.
After attending a convention led by Billy Graham a woman wrote to him: “Dear Sir, I feel that God is calling me to preach the gospel. But the trouble is that I have twelve children. What shall I do?”
The televangelist replied: “Dear Madam, I am delighted to hear that God has called you to preach the Gospel. I am even more delighted to hear that He has provided you with a congregation.”
Let us always remember that preparing ourselves and others for heaven is our priority number one.
We are so busy doing things that we can forget what life is all about: Life here on earth is meant to prepare for eternal life in heaven. We struggle to study, to get a good job, a good house, a family; we look for all sorts of entertainment and comfort; in the meantime we grow old; then what next?
The Ascension of Jesus reminds us that we are ‘only passing through’ here, as we say. We are pilgrims on a journey. Just as Jesus’ earthly life was temporary, came to an end, and he ascended back to heaven, so also our lives here are temporary, will come to an end and we will meet God in the next life. The Ascension of Jesus reminds us in all of our busyness not to forget what life is all about.
In the second reading, Paul urges Ephesians and us as well to prepare for eternal life. He says:
“May God our Father…enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit”… (Eph 1:18-19)
As we think of working for a car, a house, an earthly family, God is preparing heaven for us.
Whatever possessions or riches have become so important to us are nothing compared to the riches of heaven. Moreover, can any one of us go to heaven with any material thing? Not even the beautiful coffin or urn.
May the Holy Eucharist prepare us for heaven, because we are here on earth to prepare for heaven.