Mission Society of the Philippines


Ascension Sunday

Homily on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today is the feast of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. He returns to His Father with a "big grin" on His face. I could imagine Jesus as if telling His Father, Dad "Mission Accomplished." God's plan of salvation was executed with flying colors (so to speak). Therefore, there is a great jubilation in heaven because the Son has finally returned to His Father and is now seated at His right hand with full authority. The antiphon in the Evening Prayer I last night says, "After He spoke to His disciples, the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father."
Yes! Jesus returns to His heavenly home not like the Prodigal Son but as an obedient victorious Son who has fulfilled His Father's will. Heaven is the real home of Jesus where He unites Himself again with the Father, continuously interceding for us, whispering to the Father all our needs.
In the context of this pandemic and the circumstance we are now in, after Jesus ascended into heaven, He continues to work at home. He is now on a "Work at Home" situation as one of our very good Facebook and common friends posted on her wall. It has caught my attention and has triggered my imagination so I immediately made my comment that Jesus is very wise then because before He returned home, He has left behind in the world His "Emissary" called the Holy Spirit. Who has many other names like the Advocate, the Paraclete, the Sanctifier, the One who guides, who enlightens, who strengthens and many more references. This is to fulfill His promise that He will be with His disciples always till the end of age.
He wanted that the work He had accomplished will continue to spread far and wide. So Jesus instructed His Apostles to stay first in Jerusalem (1st Reading) until they receive the Holy Spirit that will empower them to become zealous and courageous witnesses of Christ in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth." The Holy Spirit is the assurance of the Divine assistance in carrying out of the Mission Jesus has commanded them to do.
Following this concept of a work at home situation I would say without a blink of an eye that Jesus is an excellent outstanding CEO of His company called "The Christian Company." From a group of eleven simple uneducated disciples and a couple of women, Jesus has established the largest company ever in the entire world history. To date His company is composed of 2.3 billion members around the world (Wikipedia-list of religious population). How did He do it? We can get the idea From the first reading (Acts of the Apostles). First He had instructed, through the Holy Spirit, the apostles He had chosen. After His passion, He presented Himself to them, giving many signs, that He was alive; over a period of forty days he appeared to them and taught them concerning the Kingdom of God. To simply put it He had prepared them very well and empowered them through the Holy Spirit.
There was a beautiful old story that tells of how Jesus, after His ascension into heaven, was surrounded by the angels who began to enquire about His work on earth. Jesus told them about His birth, life, preaching, the miracles He made, His 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 thrice 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 said, "I have no other plan--it must work." Truly Jesus has no other plan than to depend on the efforts of His followers. (Tony Kadavil)
Brothers and Sisters, there are two salient points I would like to emphasize here why Jesus has been the most successful CEO of the Christian World. First, He is true to His promise that He will not leave us orphans when He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us always. In today's Gospel He said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the world." Indeed, He is always with us, the Emmanuel, through His life giving spirit. It is the same spirit that prompts you to join us in this sacred celebration. You opted to be present here instead of watching other form of entertainment, or watching Tulfo, or playing games in your internet. It is the same Spirit telling us to share our blessings with the most needy and to care for those in the peripheries of the Society. It is the same spirit that urges us to be compassionate and forgiving to those who have offended us and have hurt us the most. It is the same Spirit that inspires us to be good and charitable to the marginalized and the poor members of our community. Second, Jesus has full trust in His apostles in spite of their frailties and human weakness and so in us too. Jesus has no other plan because He trusted them that they will accomplish the mission that he commanded them to do. "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you."
My dear friends, as we celebrate the Lord's return to His Father in Heaven, we, too are being commissioned to go forth and proclaim the Gospel of life and love, of hope and peace by the witness of our lives. We are challenged today to be proclaimer of the word and evangelizer by our Christian witness. Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, says; "All the baptized, what ever their position in the church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients... Indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God's saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love."
Let us all be mission partners of Jesus by sharing the joy of being loved and trusted by God despite our inadequacies and imperfections. Happy feast to all of you!
Fr. Alfredo G. Africa, Jr., MSP
Binan, Laguna, Philippines

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