Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

SOLEMNITY OF THE LORD'S ASCENSION

Mk 16:15-20


THE DAY OF the Lord’s Ascension marks the culmination of the mission of Christ on earth and the event celebrates Christ’s triumphant return to the Father in heaven. It may be seen as the last act of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. By ascending to heaven, Christ transcended the limits of his existence here on earth. Through the Holy Spirit, he now becomes invisibly present everywhere to everyone.

On the part of Christ’s disciples, the day of Ascension was a day of receiving a mandate from the Lord to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” Likewise, they are to proclaim salvation, and “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Jesus instructed them to continue his mission of salvation.

Let us try to reflect on these instructions from the Lord. As followers of Christ, we are all called to fulfill this mandate of the Lord. We can also find meaning in the celebration of the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension by reflecting on His words of instruction and farewell.

Firstly, Christ instructs, “Go into the whole world.” This means that we need to have the ability to go. This is true to the present-day missionaries. They continue to go to other places or countries as part of their missionary calling. But ordinary Christian believers, they can have also the same dynamics. I mean, even in our small community, we are called to be “on the move.” One example is going to the Church for the celebration of the holy Mass. Another example, is visiting our friends or relatives who need our presence and care. Doing these things is an act of “going”.

Secondly, Jesus instructs, “Proclaim the gospel to every creature.” Again, this is the primary work of the present-day missionaries. But ordinary Christian believers can have also a share in the proclamation of the gospel. Like St Therese of the Child Jesus, she never went to other places to do mission, but she prayed for the missionaries. Because of that, she became the “patroness of mission.” But this does not mean that we would not literally proclaim the gospel. This is very essential of the life of a Christian. In your small way, you can also proclaim the gospel in your respective families. You can also bring the words and teachings of Jesus to your respective families.

Thirdly, Jesus says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Thus, the third instruction of Jesus is, “Baptize them!”. What Jesus tells us is that baptism is a key to salvation, or the beginning of salvation. I would say that the churches in the Philippines are still lucky because almost every Sunday, the sacrament of baptism has been administered. That means that the number of Catholic believers continues to grow. Parents value the sacrament and they find it important to the faith-life of the child. Again, baptism is a requirement and the beginning of the person’s journey of salvation.

Presently, the Lord Jesus is in heaven. The Scriptures frequently picture Him at the right hand of the Father, a position of honor and authority. The return of Christ to the Father gives us a foretaste of divine life here on earth. What happened to Jesus is something that we also hope for: that one day we will be and share in the kingdom of the Father. AMEN.


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