GET TO WORK!
The sense of urgency with which the apostles took up the banner for Christ after his ascension is a source of amazement and inspiration. Perhaps the advisement of the angel, “Just as he has left, he will return!” helped them to take their eyes off the sky and take the first steps towards mission—a mission to “make disciples of all nations.”
Like the apostles in their early fervor and excitement about the Good News and the Reign of God we should be deliberate, determined, and intent on spreading the Gospel message—on wanting others to know our joy. The apostles and the whole Christian community of the Acts of the Apostles were definitely taken over by such a Holy Spirit. Engage the world they did! Even at the cost of their very lives.
These days, about the closest I can come to such an experience of gospel mission is perhaps the desire and hope I see in the eyes of parents nearing the day of their daughters’ and sons’ First Holy Communion, their Confirmation, or even, perhaps, their graduation. There IS excitement for the Kingdom there, but it doesn’t seem to go much farther—certainly not enough energy and determination to make disciples of all the nations. But we must do everything possible to rekindle within ourselves a sense of “the Gospel imperative,” — the Love Christ urges us on!
Remember the last Sierra Madre foothill fire (May, 2008)? Well, it was on Monday, May 5th, as I recall, that I was standing out on Baldwin worrying that the flames were going to crest the one last small hill separating us from impending disaster. A reporter from the “Los Angeles Times” asked me: “Don’t you get a lot of questions at a time like this about God and why bad things happen?” I answered that of course I get those questions and that my basic response is; “Just as we will never know why Jesus himself was not spared from the cross—from evil, abandonment and suffering—so our own “not being spared” is going to often remain a mystery. Nevertheless, Jesus did model for us how to get through the toughest of times. During these days of both natural and man-made disasters and mayhem, I cannot help but think once again on how we are to go to God with heart wrenching questions of WHY. In the meantime, the declaration is once again often heard—Love WILL triumph! Fire, tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, and all of the rest can stun, disorientate, and even set one up for post traumatic stress disorder. But the love of helping hands and courageous self-sacrifice—our firefighters, police, Red Cross, church communities, and plain old good neighbors—are the ways the love of God makes its way through by the Holy Spirit’s power to save, redeem, and heal.
So, on this Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, let us count on the triumphant love of Christ to be all that we need. And let us be counted among those who did not just stay behind “staring up into the sky,” but rather found among those who acted and believed in the Spirit’s powerful enabling. Like our patroness, St. Rita, may we count on the merits of Jesus’ own passion and death to make possible what we may perceive to be impossible.