The greatest of all new beginnings is the one we celebrate this – the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Ascension is not a separate event from Easter, but rather is the completion of the Resurrection and prepares the way for the gift of the Holy Spirit – the Advocate – whom we receive at Pentecost. As Christ ascends to the right hand of the Father he leaves behind a church in its infancy, but fully gifted with unity, hope and diversity in him. The Ascension marks the completion of Jesus’ historical ministry and the beginning of our’s. The Ascension is not just focused on Jesus but on the church. While his work on earth is complete, ours is just beginning. The joy we celebrate is the salvation Christ has brought us, but the Ascension also marks the call that each of us receives. We still need to be transformed into Christ. This doesn’t mean learning the rules, knowing our bible and attending mass. Those are all good things. But our mission should be to live the life reflecting Christ in all we do and in the way we treat others. People do not become Christians through the words of Christianity. People become Christians through the presence of Jesus Christ. We are called not just to receive but to give. We make Christ present by the way we live, by the way we treat others, and by the actions we take.
Each of us is called by Christ to be united to him, to walk with him, to be transformed by him. In our second reading today, we are called to know his call, to be enlightened by his call and to know the hope that belongs to that call. St. Paul tells us later in this same letter to the Ephesians to “live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace… Grace was given to each of us… to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” We are called to use our gifts – given us by Christ – to build up the body of Christ. We are called to respond to the grace received first in Baptism, again at Confirmation, and every time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
Each of us has a simple choice to make in our lives – to accept Jesus as our Savior and follow him – or to reject him. And if we accept him, we can’t go half way. We accept not only him, but his ministry as well. We must come to know the gospel, live the gospel and proclaim the gospel. Proclaiming the gospel means far more than teaching articles of faith. Proclaiming the Gospel means proclaiming the life of Jesus – making the presence of Christ a reality to the world. Jesus works through us attracting others to him. God calls us to reflect Christ throughout the world. We must care for others as he has cared for us. We must forgive others as we have been forgiven. And we must acquire the patience that God has shown to us. This is the mission we are called to by Christ through the Ascension.
As Vincentians, we have a calling to lead the way for others who have been shaken by their challenges in life. Many have had their financial home rocked, and often their physical well-being and health shaken. Many find themselves in situations they never imagined. They are in some cases rudderless. They look to us for a listening ear, a compassionate heart and merciful embrace. We are called to move forward with confidence and hope, loving one another and trusting always that Jesus has our backs! We walk with the Holy Spirit at our side, Jesus in our heart and God as our protector. Now more than ever, humility, patience and trust in God are essential for us to have. We need to be their beacon of light on the hillside showing them the way to hope and renewal. We need to be the reminders of God’s eternal plan and eternal love, for He is with us always! Do I turn in trust to God, humbly asking for His guidance through prayer to solutions for others? Do I first listen, hearing and embracing the fears and sufferings of those I minister to, and then guide them to God’s will for them through prayer? Do I help them to see God’s presence in their lives even when in the face of their suffering?
Father in heaven, let your Spirit come upon us, guiding us in all we do that we might effectively minister to those who are hurting on earth. Allow us to make the presence of Jesus undeniable to those whom we encounter. Come into me that I may do your will humbly, with patience and kindness all the days of my life. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen