J.M.J. “All you peoples, clap your hands, shout to God with cries of gladness.”
These words from the Psalmist hint at the incredible joy that we experience deep within us. The risen and ascended Jesus loves us without limit. He has done countless wonderful things for us. He has drawn us to Himself in Baptism. He has forgiven our sins in the Sacrament of Penance. He has fed us with His Flesh and Blood in the Most Holy Eucharist. He has sealed our commitment that we made to Him by the Sacrament of Confirmation. He has gone to prepare a place for us in Heaven. Where He is now, we hope to follow. For this reason we turn to Him with gladness and proclaim His Holy Name.
Forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus ascended to His heavenly Father. Those forty days were the backdrop for various appearances that He made to His disciples. Since Christ was aware of His impending Ascension, He wanted to show Himself to His followers and strengthen them for the day He would return to His Father.
Jesus realized that His eleven Apostles whom He called to the mountain for His Ascension were often fragile in their faith. But that did not stop Him from commissioning them to go forward to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching.
Work for Christ!
Our risen and ascended Lord Jesus knows very well our own brokenness. In fact, He knows our weakness better than we ourselves do. Yet, He continues to associate us to His work. He sends us out to share His love and mercy.
It is a great thing to labor for Christ. In fact, there’s no better activity! We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are His “other self” in communicating His goodness to His brothers and sisters, who also are our brothers and sisters.
How empty our lives would be if we were not connected to Christ and His divine work. If we are not united to Jesus and did not participate in His mission to lead souls to Heaven, our God-given gifts would never be fully actualized as He desires. We would “miss out” in playing our role in collaborating with Christ.
We have a serious responsibility to share Jesus with our neighbors. Whether they are happy or sad, content or deprived, rich or poor, black or white, Catholic or not, they need Christ and His saving message. This is where we come in. He has chosen us. He has selected us. He has called us to be His genuine disciples who transmit His concern to those around us.
Strength Through the Sacraments
And thank God, Christ does not send us out to His friends without the necessary spiritual strength. We have the Sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Communion, that are always there for us. When we confess out sins frequently within the context of Confession and partake in the Most Holy Eucharist, we are buoyed to go forth and to bear fruit that will last.
Jesus gave instructions “through the Holy Spirit to the Apostles whom He had chosen.” Christ also gives “instructions” to us—the very same ones He gave to His disciples: “Go and make disciples of all nations . . . Remain in Me . . . Live on in My love . . . Take and eat . . . Take and drink . . . receive the Holy Spirit.” These imperatives are always relevant; they never grow stale. These mandates are valuable reminders that the work that Christ has given to us, which is really His work, must be performed with diligence and perseverance. We must seek His help in reaching out to His brothers and sisters. And He will give us the assistance we need. If we humbly ask Jesus for spiritual aid, He will always provide it for us.
The passage from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians seems to be especially for us today: “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to His call.” We have been summoned by our ascended Lord to be His disciples. There is hope for us in His call. We really can become the persons He wants us to be. There is hope that we can be His helpmates in sharing the Good News with His sons and daughters.
Share Christ’s Word
Jesus ascended into Heaven is really, truly, and substantially present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. He is our lasting nourishment. We confide in Him and expect Him to supply what we need. Christ has promised to be with us “until the end of the age.” Do we trust Him? Are we confident that He has not left us orphaned but rather that He will grant the grace to us to be His disciples for His people?
I was ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Paul Dudley, a holy and kind shepherd who, before he celebrated Mass, would lead the priests, servers, and lectors in a prayer in the sacristy. Conscious of his sacred task in preaching Jesus Christ to all present, Bishop Dudley invariably prayed: “O Lord, give me Your Word for Your people.”
This is also our prayer. May Christ, ascended into Paradise, give us His Word to share with His people. They need it. And we need to give it.
Mary, Witness of Our Lord ascended into Heaven, pray for us.