We Are Empowered Witnesses!
Updated: May 26
“Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? Acts 1:11
Ernesto often bragged about his deep faith. Once, a storm came and the constant rain was flooding his house. A fireman rushed in and said, “Come, I’ll carry you away!” Pointing upward, Ernesto exclaimed, “Jesus is the way!” The downpour continued and the waters reached Ernesto’s waist. A fisherman rowed by and screamed, “Jump in, I’ll steer you to safety!” gazing heavenward, Ernesto replied, “Only Jesus saves!” Later, rising rainwater forced Ernesto to climb onto the roof. The pilot of a helicopter hovering overhead shouted, “I’ll help you!” Ernesto replied: “I trust in God alone!” Ernesto drowned in the raging waters. In heaven, he complained: “Lord, I trusted you, but you abandoned me!” God replied, “No, I didn’t! I tried to save you as fireman, fisherman and pilot! Why didn’t you do anything besides gazing heavenward?”
Today is Ascension Sunday. God calls us to not only gaze heavenward but to look around us and throughout the world to care for our brothers and sisters. The Gospel says: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) This is called the Great Commission to witness our Lord and keep the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ alive in the world.
We are called to be witnesses of Christ’s saving mission of love. “Teach them what I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) In the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Christ leaves his disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit and the mission to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. This means, we are now the hands and feet doing the saving ministry of Christ under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Second Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians highlights the fact that the exaltation of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father is the constant source of inspiration and hope for all Christian generations. By doing the saving ministry of Christ, we, too, constantly hope for our own exaltation and place in His kingdom. But we can only do it by both gazing heavenward (vertical dimension of faith) and around us to serve our brothers and sisters (horizontal dimension of faith).
The Ascension of Christ gives us the opportunity to make a difference in the world of pain and sufferings. Christ showed us His victory over sin and death on the Cross and now He is showing us that we, God’s People, His Church can carry on His saving ministry.
Let me conclude with a beautiful old story. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, the angels welcomed and surrounded Him, and they started asking Him about his work on earth. Jesus told them about His birth, life, preaching, death and Resurrection, and how he had accomplished the salvation of the world. The Archangel Gabriel asked, “Well, now that you are back in Heaven, who will continue your work on earth?” Jesus said, “While I was on earth, I gathered a group of people around me who believed in me and loved me. They will continue to spread the Gospel and carry on the work of the Church.” Gabriel was perplexed. “You mean Peter, who denied you three times and all the rest who ran away when you were crucified? You mean to tell us that you left them to carry on your work? And what will you do if this plan doesn’t work?” Jesus replied, “I have no other plan — it must work.” http://frtonyshomilies.com/
Our Lord Jesus Christ believes in us to continue His saving ministry under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Do we (me and you) believe in ourselves?