World Communications day & Canada Health Day
Acts 1. 1 -11
Responsorial Psalm 47
Ephesians 1. 17 -23
Gospel: Mark 16. 15 – 20

The feast of the Ascension is an open invitation to see everything from a broader perspective. Christ, our Brother and Saviour, lived like anyone of us, surrounded by the various things of the world. But, unlike us, He always maintained a broad perspective. He was sure of the place He came from and the place He would be going back. That is why He said the night before He died: “It was from the Father I came when I entered this world; now I am on my way back to the Father” (Jn 16: 28).

Of course, He too had his own share of doubts, fears and uncertainties. There were times when found it hard to see His way or find meaning in His life and work. But He would make it a point to seek promptly and earnestly for the light and soon He would see things in the correct perspective. The glimpse of the glorious life beyond gave Him the necessary strength to encounter difficulties and trials.

When the time came for Him to leave this world. He took His apostles up to the top of the Mount of Olives so that they too could have a glimpse of the glory towards which He was going. He promised such a glory would one day be theirs too if they remained faithful to what He had taught them. They were so fascinated by the sight that they kept gazing into heaven. Finally, a voice called them back to reality: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” From the mountain they came back to the world, with a new insight, purpose and direction.

Often enough, as Thoreau said, “We live merely like ants, and our lives are frittered away by details.” We get caught up in problems and weighed down by difficulties. We tend to lose direction and find it difficult to see things in the correct perspective. It is then that we need to recall the vision our faith gives us regarding the goal and meaning of our lives.

The feast of the Ascension is celebrated also to remind us of the commission given to us: “Go out into the world and preach the Good News to the whole of creation.” We need not shudder at such a responsibility, for we are not left alone to do this job. Jesus has promised to be with us throughout our life. It is a very close collaboration that the Lord asks from us. In fact Jesus has entrusted us with a twofold responsibility: the task of proclaiming the Good News to those who have never heard it and to be heralds of Jesus. He also entrusted us with healing task, which means to be concerned with men’s bodies as well as men’s minds, for He wished to bring health to the body and to the soul.

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 emphasizes 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.
The Ascension brings a particular nuance: it tells that our human experiment has a bright future, that humanity is called to glory. It was Teilhard de Chardin’s favorite feast for this reason. Newcomers amid the trillions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, can we believe that the Creator has reached deep down into our creaturehood to raise it up? Well, yes, because spiritual realities have their own powerful authority, they are infinitely qualitatively different from even the most imposing material ones (such as those exoplanets that are 500,000 miles across). All Nature may conspire to crush the thinking reed, and the eternal silence of those infinite spaces may terrify it, but the fact, to paraphrase Blaise Pascal, that it thinks puts it on a completely other ‘order’ from the material, and the order of charity, the resurrection order, is on another plane again.
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 ( “minus solum, quam cum solus”). 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.
God bless.