May 14, 2015 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment


Lord, has the time come?

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 4:1-13; Mark 16:15-20

With the Solemnity of the Ascension, we are slowly entering into a fuller realisation of the master plan of God, inaugurated from the book of Genesis with the creation of Paradise. We must keep in mind that God’s providential plan encompasses all of human history. Like the apostles, we are always in danger of reducing the infinite measure of God to our finite plans. This is clearly displayed with the statement of Jesus’ apostles to Him in His final moments with them when they asked Him, “Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6b) They have a Jewish agenda and are hoping that Jesus as a Jew has come to set them free from the Roman occupation.

As Christians, we have our own agendas for God to fulfil too. In this Solemnity of the Ascension, the Lord invites us to ascend with Him, to have ourselves “baptised with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:8), to take on a divine perspective of time; to become “His (my) witnesses … to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). I am quite sure such a life-changing invitation often leaves us a bit stumped like the apostles, “standing … looking at the sky” (Acts 1:10). We do not know how to respond.

In fact, such a powerless disposition might be what is required for us to make the journey to becoming true disciples of the Lord focused on the will of the Father. St Paul in the second reading offers us a guiding metaphor as potential disciples of the Lord; “prisoner in the Lord” (Ephesians 4:1). Disciples of the Lord have freely decided to place themselves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, a concrete sign of that dedication is the fruit of unity; “Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3). However, this unity is for a purpose. It is not a utopian end in itself that even nations look for today. Its purpose is to fulfil the mission of Jesus, the “building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Towards this end, each of us at our baptism are gifted potentially – “To some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). The list is not exhaustive, as each one of us is called to discover and develop our gifting for the Christian mission.

My dear brothers and sisters, as we approach Pentecost, let us cry out for the gift of the Holy Spirit with this wider awareness of the plan of God. If we ask for the gifting of the Holy Spirit, it is only because we want to be equipped to fulfil the mission God has entrusted to each one of us. While this mission begins in our families and society, it calls us to bear witness to the whole world gradually. Where Singapore is concerned, the potential for this is very real since the “world” comes to our shores in a multi-religious and multi-cultural context.

I urge you on this Solemnity to surrender yourselves and your future to the Lord as you hear the gospel call; “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) Remember that God looks for your availability, and not your ability, because that already comes from Him as a gift. What needs to come from you is the freedom and courage of St Paul to set out into the deep. To consider “the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8) is truly a great grace to ask for on this Solemnity.

Courage! Jesus has assured us that there will be signs that will accompany “believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover” (Mark 16:17). Let us take Jesus at His word and let us live the life we are called to at the service of society, and not the one proposed by society as an end in itself.

Actions for today:

  • Celebrate the Eucharist of the Ascension asking the Lord to reveal the gift He has given you
  • Ask the Holy Spirit for the courage to carry out the mission He has for you today
  • Share the second reading of today (Ephesians 4:1-13) with another person at home or at work

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Entry filed under: Catechesis.

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