The feast of the Ascension is about letting go and living a new life as well.
With the departure of a friend to another country we have al experienced the strange new sensation of going back to ordinary tasks and routine in their absence. There is a lingering sadness at their departure and a ‘picking up of the pieces’ as we re-arrange our house of guest room to the way things were. With Jesus however there is a newness, things are not the same as before. We are to live a new life with new ways of doing things and with a new joy.
Jesus takes the disciples to the outskirts, to the edge, to the periphery if the city – symbolic – to be taken aside, away from the crowd, to experience silence, quiet and to be blessed. We too must continually draw apart from the bustle and the noise to the periphery of life, even for a short while, to once more hear the reassuring words of Jesus and to be strengthened and renewed for our mission in life.
We cannot have our heads stuck in a cloud. We have work to do. Christ has ascended into heaven and where He has gone we hope to follow, where our loved ones, please God, await us. We are not to be so heavenly minded so as to be of no earthly use. Recently Pope Francis was asked what do think of priests wearing cassocks or soutanes –‘ I don’t mind so long as they have their sleeves rolled up!’
He will judge us in the measure that we have loved and have shown compassion.
Us .We are witnesses to His death and resurrection.
We are witnesses to this - to the repentance for the forgiveness of sins – the joy of being forgiven is the greatest joy of all.
There is a sense of a handing over of a special task – an office of responsibility, an inheritance – something to be handed on –‘something I want you to have’.
Witnesses when and where?
At every opportunity at home, in the family circle, in the workplace and above all our social responsibility in society. God is to be found in the pots and pans as well.
To speak the truth in charity – a difficult and important and delicate task – to those who need to hear the truth of change. Anyone who has lived or worked alongside an addict knows the difficulty in speaking of the need for change, and the criticism that ensues. Having the duty and responsibility to tell the truth hurts, but the truth sets us and others free. As Catholics in particular we are called to speak up for the most vulnerable members of society, the poor, the disadvantaged and those whose lives are threatened – especially the defenceless unborn.
It is then that we realise that there is a cost. To be a witness for the truth is to be cross-examined, to be public, to be scrutinised, and observed, to be open to the possibility of contradiction and ridicule. In fact nearly every one of the disciples who witnessed Jesus’ ascension witnessed to the point of death. The Greek word for witness is MARTYR. We must be credible witnesses. In the year of faith we must endeavour to learn more about our faith in the Year of Faith. The book YOUCAT is a great resource for just that.
The last command of Jesus is related to the lives we are called to lead at the final dismissal at every Mass - Go the Mass is ended – glorifying the Lord by your life.