“For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit!” “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (From Acts 1:1-11)
A Blessed Ascension Sunday!
Christ’s Ascension is not about saying goodbye but an assurance of His presence in the world and the Church as He now sits at His Father’s right hand. Our First Reading from Acts 1:1-11 proclaims this truth. Jesus is present to us in Spirit. He has never left us orphaned. We feel His Spirit in the Church through the Scriptures, the Sacraments, our prayer life, and our fulfillment of spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
It’s why we must never fall into despair in our struggles of dealing and battling with the evils in the world. We know that God’s works and goodness would triumph over evil. We must remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-36:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”
Hence, we must be faithful to his commandments to love one another and to care for the needs of the poor, the oppressed, and the vulnerable to be on his right and have a place in His Father’s house.
Indeed, Christ’s Ascension is also about commissioning us to continue his works of mercy and justice by the power of the Holy Spirit. We fulfill this command by being good-hearted, churchgoing, charitable women and men and acting for justice.
In his book, Wrestling with God: Finding Hope and Meaning in Our Daily Struggles To Be Human, Ron Rolheiser reminds us of this two-fold task of charity and justice. He writes:
“Charity is still the ultimate virtue, and sometimes the only positive difference we can make in our world is precisely the one-on-one love and respect that we give to each other. Our own individual goodness is sometimes the only candle that is ours to light. But goodness and light must shine publicly too—namely, in how we vote and in what policies we support and oppose.”
Our celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord becomes more meaningful when we reflect on this mission of love and justice Christ has called us to fulfill.
Blessings to all!
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.