Ascension, ‘I shall return’

WORD ALIVE by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

Today  is the feast of Jesus’ Ascension to heaven.   His  Ascension means not so much a “space travel” but that Christ entered into a new  dimension,  an unseen but definitive presence which  is  spiritual  or  immaterial.

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Moreover, his Ascension was  not  some kind of a “retirement from  public  service” after accomplishing his mission. Rather it signified his  glorification as universal sovereign Lord of heaven after a fruitful  life on earth.

Jesus himself said: “Did  not  the  Christ  have   to suffer…before entering into his glory?” (Lk 24,26).

* * *

The Lord’s Ascension into heaven also teaches us that our final destiny is not in this world but in heaven. Where he went, we will follow if we are faithful to his teachings. That’s so different from an atheist who dies. When inside the coffin, he is all dressed up but with NOWHERE to go!

* * *

There’s a noteworthy insight from the “Acts of the Apostles.” After Jesus ascended,  “two men in white,” presumably angels, tell the disciples:  “Why are  you looking up to heaven? Jesus who has been taken  up  will RETURN as you have seen him go” (Acts 1,11). In short,  Christ will do a MacArthur–“I shall return.”

* * *

In  the “interim period,” that is, the time between his  Ascension and his return, we are told not to fix our concern solely on the afterlife but to attend to the mundane affairs of  establishing  “colonies  of heaven” ALREADY here on  earth.

* * *

Do  you still remember the American actress Whoopi  Goldberg who delighted millions of viewers in highly acclaimed  movies  like “Ghost”  and  “Sister  Act”?

Every year Goldberg  co-hosts  a  TV program “Comic Relief” to aid her country’s numerous poor and homeless.

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It is  only one of the many charitable projects she is involved  in.  She  tells why in an interview: “I fear waking  up  one morning and finding out my life was for nothing. We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little  torches out to lead people through the dark.”

* * *

That’s a genuine Christian attitude. But some might say, “Of course, Goldberg can do that because she’s a wealthy celebrity.”  In reply, you don’t have to be a wealthy person to help improve the lot of your less fortunate brethren. You can do it in whatever capacity you are.

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ASK YOURSELF:  Am I doing something, going out of my “comfort zone,” to reach out  to the less fortunate in my church and in society?

Is my life spent  ONLY in money-making and pleasure-seeking? Hope we will not say what Goldberg averred: “”I fear waking  up  one morning and finding out that my life was for nothing.” When the Lord returns to judge us, let’s pray that his coming will not be for our condemnation but our reward.

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THE LIGHTER SIDE. Once a devout lay minister died and off he went to the next life. There, one either goes to the top floor: heaven,  where the righteous are rewarded with eternal bliss.

Those who have venial sins go to  the second floor, purgatory, and the damned are herded to the basement, hell, where they are tormented with eternal punishment.

* * *

Now the lay minister found himself in the second floor (purgatory).  As he roamed about his new home, to his surprise he met his former parish priest.

“Father, I didn’t expect you to be here,” the excited parishioner blurted out.  “Why aren’t you up there?” pointing to heaven.

“Ssshhhh, quiet, brod. Our bishop is down below us!” said the priest pointing to the basement.

That’s only a joke, of course, and I hope our bishops will not take it seriously and send me to the basement!

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Today, the Catholic Church marks the  WORLD COMMUNICATION’S DAY. This event is in response to Jesus’ command before his Ascension to heaven: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation” (Mk 16,15).

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Note that the Lord said “proclaim the GOOD NEWS.” While there’s a lot of fake and negative news around, the media would do well to highlight inspiring news of success, compassion, peace, honesty, development.

Books from Logos Publications of the Divine Word Missionaries available online

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