This weekend we celebrate the feast of Ascension, in many place this feast was celebrated on Thursday of this week but here in Ireland it is celebrated on the 7th Sunday of Easter. Over our lives we have seen the departure of so many people, Perhaps it is a son or daughter leaving for university or maybe it was someone leaving to go to another country or the hardest departure of all someone close to us dying. Our lives are made up of so many different times and places of departure or leave-taking and really that is what Ascension is really about. Jesus going back to heaven to be at the Fathers right hand. The words of the Gospel for Ascension day strike me in a particular way Jesus tells us ‘go therefore make disciples of all the nations and know that I am with you yes to the end of time.
Jesus is definite about what he has to say when he speaks and calls his disciples to be the first missionaries. This is in sharp contrast to the fact that, their feelings were varied. Some of them worshipped him, while some of them still doubted. Jesus didn’t seem to have any great problem with that, because he knew that, when the Spirit came, all of those doubts would be ended. It would seem, indeed, that he was in a hurry to take his leave of them, so that the next part of his salvation plan could get underway. The mission of the apostles was simple to understand; difficult to carry out. It was to teach others all that Jesus had taught them. Just as he asked his disciples to follow him, they were to ask that others should follow him and was so hard for them then and it is hard for us to do in the world of today. The programme of salvation was to begin at Pentecost and continue from generation to generation, until the end of time.
So many things have changed in the Church and society. However the two things that have not changed are Jesus himself and every word of his message as they are ever old and always new for each generation. The message of Jesus is ignored by many people inside and outside the Church for their own reasons. The essential message of God and his messenger Jesus his Son have never changed up and I don’t think that they will ever change. Again and again we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to make disciples of all the nations realizing that Jesus and his message are always new for each generation. May we be heralds of God as we place the message of Jesus before others by the way we live out the call of Jesus to follow him.
This Sunday is the 6th Sunday of Easter. it is also the beginning of the month of May. May is the month in which we venerate the Mother of Jesus in a special way. In the Gospel for this Sunday Jesus tells us ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.
The teaching about love is not a recent innovation, or a new-age trend as many people seem to think. Jesus does lay down a commandment for us today, but he does so, not as the master talking to servants, but as a friend speaking intimately to other friends. Servants follow rules, their lives are dictated by the one who holds authority over them. Jesus’ religion isn’t based on such a model though many in the church today seem to think otherwise. Instead, love is the foundation of our faith. Jesus is asking us to live out of the realization of that love. We are his friends, he tells us, so now we are asked to go out and live like friends with one another. “Friends,” in this context, means “beloved ones.” We need to live out of that description for we are the beloved disciples.
The instruction that Jesus gives are valuable lessons by which we will master the love of God our Father in what we think, what we say and what we do. Jesus chose his followers to carry out God’s plan of salvation in every age he chooses us today in our turn to do the same. Love is the best way to become his “co-worker,” since it reveals the reason he made the world and affirms our friendship with the creator. Love changes everything it touches. It tells us to stop bragging about this or that. It enhances our reputation. It denies the power of position and wealth which we sometimes feel is ours by right, it raises us up as true leaders. It connects us to God and to one another. Divine love transcends mere emotion. It becomes our lifeline to God. And it forms the basis of real community where everyone is valued and none are left out. It is inexplicable in theory, yet easily seen in action. Wherever God loves, he acts. Wherever he acts, he is there with us. HE IS WITH US simply because he loves us and the love of God knows no bounds; we remember the love that God has for each and every one of us each time we look at the Cross. There was no greater love than the Cross of Good Friday. We are called to bring the love of God into our own lives as well as the lives of those around us remembering that the Love of God lasts forever.
During the month of May we honour Mary the Mother of Jesus in a special way with our May Altar in our homes. May she lead us to her Son Jesus who calls us to remain in his love and to pass it on to others.