SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD
Gospel Reading: Matthew 28:16-20
It has become almost a tradition for us Pinoys to hold a DESPEDIDA party every time a member of the family or a close acquaintance leaves for another place. And despedidas are usually occasions for grand celebrations. Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord—the day when Jesus leaves his apostles and was taken up to heaven before their eyes. The Lord did not set the table with food and drinks to celebrate with friends. Neither did He leave behind his apostles with inheritance—power, riches, possessions, and positions. Instead, He gave them a task: “GO . . . AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS. . . . . . and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.” And the assurance that: “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
The mission entrusted by Jesus to the apostles before His ascension should remind us that all of us have the same mission—clergy and laity alike. He is telling us that this is not a matter of choice but is an essential element of our Christian life. This does not mean, that all of us should be preaching the Gospel in the same way as a priest does on a Sunday. Of course not, but there are all kinds of different ways we can communicate the Good News.
We do not even need to go to mission lands to proclaim the Good News and make disciples for the kingdom. We are sent to people who live around us. We are sent to our families, to our neighbors, to our religious communities, to our workplaces—to those we encounter daily in our lives.
Recently, I saw a humorous picture of God talking to the devil. The evil one saying, “With COVID19 I have closed your churches,” and with God answering, “On the contrary, I have opened a church in each house.” Precisely, every house is a domestic church. Somehow, ECQ/MECQ is giving you the opportunity to proclaim the Good News right at your homes—parents evangelizing their children and children evangelize their parents. Brother evangelizes his sister and sister evangelizes her brother. Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t it a graced moment to hear mass online and pray together right inside your homes and share spiritual insights after the mass, helping each other get closer to Jesus? Let us then take this opportunity to do our mission staring at our homes and from there bring the good news to a wider venue.
Besides, we are also invited to become disciples of prayer. During this lockdown period, avoid destructive and unnecessary chatter and gossips. Instead, spend more time in prayer. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Remember Abraham pleading for the lives of people living in Sodom and Gomorrah? God answers Abraham, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it” (Gen 18:32).
For over two thousand years, good people — in the kitchen, at home, in the fields, at the office, in schools, in factories, or other workplaces — have spread Jesus’ message and many of them did not use much words. Their very lives proclaimed the reality of the Kingdom. At the end, it is more by living out the gospel values than by words that we become faithful and effective proclaimers of the Kingdom of God.
During the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord and during these trying moments, let our response to God’s invitation to go and make disciples of all nations be: HERE I AM LORD, SEND ME! Think of yourself as one of the apostles and disciples commissioned by the Lord, and rejoice that the Lord will remain with you always even to the end of the world.