First Reading: Acts 1. 1-11. Responsorial Psalm: 47. Second Reading: Ephesians 1. 17 – 23.
Gospel: Matthew 28. 16 – 20.
Today’s first reading describes the last time the apostles saw the risen Christ. Luke describes the
scene in the very first chapters of his Book of Acts, but words alone can’t capture the amazement
an wonder the apostles must have felt when they saw Jesus “lifted up” into heaven (Acts 1:9).
They were blessed indeed to have seen all that Jesus said and did, from the beginning of his
ministry up to this dramatic moment.
But along with this privilege came a great responsibility. In his final instructions to his apostles.
Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the
ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This was their new purpose in life, the very reason why Jesus had
chosen them in the first place. Upon their eyewitness accounts would rest the faith of millions of
believers and the entire Church through the centuries.
Of course, many other people have followed in the apostles footsteps by witnessing to Christ.
They may not have seen Jesus firsthand, but they have experienced his presence and the power of
his Holy Spirit in their lives. In fact, every person who calls himself a believer is also, by default,
a witness to Christ.
Do you think of yourself as a witness? If you follow Jesus, you can’t help being one. You
witness by the values that guide you, by the love you show others, and by your life of prayer.
You witness when you share how God is working in your life
or how he has forgiven you or answered a prayer.
We celebrate this great Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, all of us are reminded as well that
forty days have passed in this joyful and glorious season of Easter. How have we been living
through our Easter season? Have we been idling around and been ignorant of our calling and
mission as Christians? Have our words, actions and deeds been reflective of our Christian faith
and beliefs? If we call ourselves as Christians and yet we do not practice our faith, our carry out
our actions, deeds and works, and if our words and interactions with each other are not reflective
of our faith in God, then how can we expect others around us or those whom we encounter and
interact with can become believers as well? The sad reality is that there are many Christians
within the Church who have become lukewarm and even dead in the faith, abandoning the Lord
for worldly pursuits and other things.
And lest we easily point finger and blame others, or think that this problem is what others have
but not us, let us all look upon ourselves first, our way of life, our predisposition and our actions.
If we truly have lived our lives in the most Christian manner, obeying the Law and
commandments of God, showing love for both God and for our fellow men alike, then well done
indeed, and we should continue doing that. It is by all these that we can truly be missionary and
evangelising in the way how the Apostles and the many saints and holy missionaries in the past
had done. Many became believers not only because of the miracles and wonders that they had
done, but also because of the faith and dedication which our holy predecessors had shown in their
lives, in how they committed themselves to God and to His path, and also in how they loved and
cared for each other.
All of us are called to be the beacons of the light of God, which Christ our Lord has shown and
passed on to us. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to a virtuous and worthy life that all
of us as Christians have been expected to do in our own respective lives? All of us should no
longer be hesitant or ignorant to do as God has told us all to do, as our first and most important
mission as Christians is evangelisation, to go forth and spread the faith to others, just as the Lord
told His disciples in the Great Commission, ‘Go forth and make disciples of all the people of all
the nations, and baptise them all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ And we
do not have to seek for great things or worry that we have to aim for great achievements and
wonders. We do not have to compare or worry, but instead let the Holy Spirit to help and lead us
down the path, and entrust ourselves to God Who will show us how we can glorify Him by our
In the gospel we have just heard Our Lord’s final instructions, his Last Will and Testament. Just
before leaving them, he reminds them of what he expects of them. Earlier he had sent them out to
spread the Kingdom of God. Those who go in his name, do so with his authority. The authority
goes with the mission, so to speak. In Matthew’s version he now adds this great promise, “I am
with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mark says that the Lord worked with them and
confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it”. And Luke emphasises that they will be
“clothed with power from on high”, that is, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is very definite about what he has to say. Like any gathering of people, the feelings of his
disciples were varied. But he sends them out to speak and act in his name.
Their mission was both easy and hard: easy to understand but hard to carry out. It was to teach
others all that he had taught them. Just as he asked them to follow his way, they were to ask that
others should follow that way too.
Has a doctor ever put you on a course of antibiotics. The most basic guidance about antibiotics is
to complete the course. Even if the patient starts to feel well after a few days, to discontinue
taking the medicine can let their condition grow worse.
Similarly, the message of salvation must continue to be shared until the end of time. With all the
changes in the church and in society, neither Jesus nor his message have changed. His Gospel
remains a call to live our lives to the full.
You write a new page of the gospel each day, through all that you do and whatever you say.
Others read what you write, be it faithful or true. So what is the gospel according to you?
He is with us always. This can be a real help against loneliness. Being alone is not the same as
being lonely. One can feel lonely in a crowded street; or alternatively, like Cicero, never less
alone than when alone. This applies especially to those who believe the promise, “l am with you
always.” Talking with him doesn’t even need words. If we are open to His presence in our heart,
and treasure it, we can experience fully that “Joy of the Gospel” so warmly described for us by
our good Pope Francis.
Let us all remind ourselves that we have important mission in our lives, by doing our best in
whatever we do in life, in whatever opportunities we have received and in whichever places that
we have been called to, in our various respective ministries and vocations, be it as those called to
the priesthood and holy orders, or those called to the religious and consecrated life, or those called
to a life of holy singlehood and other forms of ministry associated with that, and of course as
Christian couples and families tasked with the building of the faithful Christian families, the
foundations of our Church and Christian faith, where our faithful future and young generations
ought to be raised well in the Christian faith and truth of God. Each one of us should do our best
to proclaim the Lord and His Good News, to those around us, both within and outside the Church,
by our exemplary and faithful life.
May the Lord, ascended in glory onto His Throne in Heaven, most excellent and almighty,
continue to guide us all His Church and all of us His beloved ones, in our path and way of life so
that we may truly be the inspirational and worthy beacons of His light, truth and love. May all of
us continue to strive to be faithful in all things, and do our best to be good role models and
inspiration as the missionaries and disciples of our Lord in our world today, ever inspired,
strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit. Amen.