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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Reflection 2020-05-24 Ascension of Our Lord

Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20
We celebrate Ascension today, the completion of the life of Jesus on earth. The Gospel tells us the Eleven disciples went to Galilee and when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. We see here it possible to worship God while doubting him because faith does not depend on certainty. Faith is a choice, to believe not because we do not have doubt, but because it is reasonable. The reason for the belief is the Person who gives us the reason, in this case: Jesus himself through his Apostles.
We see the dynamics of faith. Some believed, some did not. Those who did not believe still went to Galilee because others went. Those who have strong faith are to help those who doubt. When they came, they saw Jesus and bowed to him, EVEN those who doubted. Faith should be contagious. It should lead others to believe in Jesus. Jesus tells them: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Faith should lead others to know the authority and power of Jesus. It should lead us to teach others and baptize them in the name of God. This baptizing needs to be explained.
Baptism is not a one time thing where we come to Church, have water poured on us and we go our way. Baptism is a sacrament that shows a spiritual reality. The word baptism means to immerse. So when we are baptized, we are immersed into the life of God, not only when water was poured on us, but throughout our lives. What we do after that is our choice. We can live out our baptism worthy of children of God or we can squander this gift and live as if God does not matter. Jesus tells us to be immersed in the life of God is to obey everything that I have commanded you. We see here Jesus commands those the Apostles baptize should obey what Jesus commands you, meaning the Apostles. To be immersed into the life of Christ is to obey what Jesus commands through the Apostles, to be faithful to the teaching of the Apostles as handed by Jesus.
Being immersed in the life of God does not mean we understand everything. The Apostles showed even before Jesus ascended to heaven, they still thought Jesus came to restore the kingdom of Israel. Instead, being immersed in the life of God is to be a witness of his power, which St Paul says in the second reading: the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. Being immersed in the life of God is to live in the power of his Spirit. It is to have hope to which he has called us, that he will lead us to the fullness of life in him. It is to believe as he said in the Gospel today: I am with you until the end of the age.
Jesus has ascended to heaven. The final blessing at mass says he has pierced the heights of heaven and unlocked for you the way to ascend to where he is. This is the meaning of the Ascension: that Christ has shown us how to live immersed in the life of God and to achieve the fullness of that immersion when we shall see him again.
Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, to intercede for us. From there, he will come to judge the living and the dead. This is our belief. This is what we hope, that when Jesus comes, we will greet him with joy and live fully in his life.
Is there anything bothering you today? Jesus promised he is with you forever. But there is a condition: that we live according to what he commanded the Apostles. We need to immerse ourselves into his life, to let his Spirit change us, transform our hearts, to allow his power to work in our lives.
Lord Jesus, here I am. I have doubts and fears, yet, I believe, you have all authority in heaven and on earth. I come to you and believe, you have called me to immerse myself in your life. Take Lord and do as you wish. Change me, teach me and exert your power in my life, so I can be fully immersed in you.

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