Saturday, June 16, 2018

We Walk by Faith Not by Sight ( 11th Sunday Year B)

 Homily Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
  • Ezekiel 17:22-24;
  •  Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16;
  • 2 Cor 5:1-10
  • Mark 4:26-34
 We Walk by Faith Not by Sight (2 Cor 5:6-10)
 On every Third Sunday in June we celebrate Father’s Day here in the United States of America. Many of us…. are familiar with its social history that goes back to the 1907 mining incidence in West Virginia. As a faith family (at Mother Cabrini Church and elsewhere), with eyes on the Kingdom of God, it is an ideal time to take a little moment to pray for our families, and recall the importance of parenting, mentoring and father-figures in our lives; as well as the gift and place of faith; trusting in God,  and in the workings of the mysteries of his kingdom in our lives and for our friends and families in different parts of the world.
As we heard in the parables of today’s scriptures (parables of the eagles, of the trees and of seeds), God accompanies each of us, including our parents, our fathers, our mothers, on our journeys; in everything that we do; small or big.  But it only takes faith to realize this—the hiddenness of God’ Kingdom, of his love and mercy in our lives.
 In the concluding section of the parable of the eagle (Ezek 17:22-24), Ezekiel, a prophet of exile explains how God protects those who trust him, even when they found themselves in exile- there is hope for return, provided they kept the faith. In his prophecy, Ezekiel seems to be referencing king Zedekiah, in particular who broke his oath and faith in God, in the face of the threat of “the eagle” Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.  Although Zedekiah is removed, God will provide Israel a savior, a messiah in a very mysterious way, in the person of Christ of Mark’s Gospel, Son of Mary, as prophesied by Israel’s prophets( Isaiah 9:6-7). He is the one that sows a mustard seed in today's Gospel parable.
 This little mustard seed that Jesus, Israel’ Messiah sows in today’ Gospel parable of the kingdom is the word of God, the message of the Kingdom of God- love, peace, forgiveness, parental responsibilities, corporeal and spiritual works of mercy. It is a mystery. This mysterious message of the Kingdom requires a faith-response from each of us, by loving others back, for God first loved us; by caring of one another, because God first cared for each us.
We are invited to grow this message; to run home with it.  We are invited to allow this message of the kingdom to grow in our lives and in our homes-, becoming like a big tree, welcoming every bird, welcoming everyone, training our children, loving our spouses, giving , even if it is a  cup of cold water to travelers and immigrants we may not have met before; forgiving those who may have offended.
 This Kingdom of God, as portrayed in in Marks Gospel, and as preached by Paul in 2 Corinthian 5:6-10, requires faith, hope and courage, no matter how small. It is a mystery that can only be perceived and practiced by those, who place their faith and hope, in Christ Jesus, believing and hoping that Christ is the herald of the Kingdom of God. Each of us from all walks of life and culture has a place in this kingdom even with the minutest faith, love and acts of charity we daily perform.
  I have no doubt that even in the face of adversities, mysteries, disappointment, threats, bad economy, unfaithfulness, insult, war, famine, illness, loss of our loved ones, many of our parents, particularly our fathers know how to persevere. They know how to love their wives and children. They know how to teach hard work, endurance, patience, respect, care and forgiveness to their children. 
 We want to honor our husbands today. We want to pray for our fathers and father- figures today, including our mentors and teachers, our brothers, friends, nephews and uncles. We want to appreciate them. And share in the gifts that God has blessed them with, especially the gift of faith in God. For we “walk by faith and not by sight.”
Reflection Questions:
    1. What jumps out for you in today’s scripture passages?
    2. How often do you recognize the presence of God’s kingdom in your live and faith community- even in little things and places?
    3. What challenges our faith and trust in God?

Friday, June 8, 2018

We are Invited Members of God’s Kingdom(10th sunday Year B)

Homily Tenth Sunday In Ordinary Time Year B; Fr. Michael Udoek Udoekpo
  • Genesis 3:9-15
  • Ps 130:1-8
  • 2 Corinthians 4:13-51
  • Mark 3:20-35
 We are Invited Members of God’s Kingdom
We celebrate on this 10th Sunday of Ordinary Season, the mystery of God’s kingdom (hē basileia tou theou), the mystery of his sovereignty, the mystery of his works and deeds, peace, joy, healing and eternal life. As we carry on with this celebration we are reminded of what all of us must do, as individual and as a church to enter into this kingdom.
We must welcome everyone; knowing that our next door neighbor could be that saint; those saints, Pope Francis spoke about in his Gaudete et Exsultate, whom we are daily called to imitate. We must build our lives around Jesus’ values. We must reject Satan, and all his evil deeds. We must trust always in God and rely in the teachings of the Church handed to us by the Apostles, especially as recorded in the scriptures.
For example in today’s scriptures, beginning with that Gospel of Mark, just heard, the story of Jesus' healing, exorcism, welcoming everyone including his parents, or Jesus himself being constantly misunderstood by religious leaders, by the power that be, is Evangelist Mark’s unique way of narrating the Christology of Jesus, or of reminding us of the mystery of the kingdom of God, that you and I strife every day to enter.
In Mark the Kingdom of God is not necessarily a place, but a metaphor of God’s sovereignty, of God’s rule over creation and history. The entire ministry of Jesus in deeds and words, is nothing else, but the proclamation of this kingdom.
Look closely at the deeds and words of Jesus in today’s Gospel of Mark 3:20-35. As he was ministering and healing the people who had gathered and even made it impossible for them to eat, his relatives came to seize Jesus away from the crowd, thinking that he was “out of his mind.” The scribes who saw him healed thought he was doing that using the power of Beelzebul. Why would they think that Jesus was out of his mind or using the power of Beelzebul to heal.? A mystery! Humanity is trapped, needing God's help and manifestation of his rule in a decisive and new manner. Again as he was doing this, his mother and brothers sent words to him from outside that they were waiting to see him. But, he said, “Who are my brothers and sisters.”?  Looking around at those that had encircled him, he said “here are my mother and my brothers…for whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother.”
His words, his healing, his exorcism proclaims the kingdom of God. Jesus’ healing in today’s gospel proves the power of God in the world. It proves the power of God in his Son, Jesus, over Satan. That same Satan that caused the fall of our first parent, Adam and Eve,  read in  today’s first reading, Genesis 3:9-15.
In God’s kingdom, Jesus is also not out of his mind as thought by the Scribes. But, in Jesus’ kingdom, which is a mystery, beyond our ordinary human expectation, all are welcomed (young and old, male and female), especially those who do the will of God, who love, who are forgiving and generous to their neighbors, especially the poor. In God's kingdom there is mercy, there is fullness of redemption and there is no division.
In Jesus’ kingdom preached by Apostle Paul in the 2nd reading (2 Cor 4:13-5:1), the Corinthian community, members of the church are invited to be humble, endure in their suffering, trustful and hope in God. Not just on earthly things power and influence. They are invited and reminded that “they have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
In spite of the challenges of our times, and cultural vicissitudes, let us pray at this worship that we may always build our lives around the values of Jesus, around the values of God’s kingdom: peace, joy, inclusiveness, and forgiveness, charity to the poor, the elderly, and total commitment and surrendering to the will God--- his healing touch, his tender mercies, his love, his compassion, his rule and leadership.
Reflection Questions:
  1. In the light of today’s scriptures what is your reassessment of the mystery of the rule and kingdom of God?
  2. In what ways have we helped in spreading this kingdom of God?
  3. Could we think of  a specific instance when we assisted a member of our faith community to recommit his or her trust in God and in the foundation built for us by the Christ of Mark’s gospel?

Friday, June 1, 2018

Restoring Our Rightful Relationship with God( Solemnity of Corpus Christi Yr B,)

Homily- the Solemnity of Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
  • ·         Exodus 24:3-8;
  • ·          Ps 116:12-18;
  • ·          Heb 9:11-15
  • ·          Mark 14; 12-16, 22-26

 Restoring Our Rightful Relationship with God

We come today as a Church, and family of faith, to solemnly celebrate God’s continues presence in our midst, through Christ, His Son.; through the efficacy of the Body and Blood of Christ which we celebrate and receive at every Mass.  The more we celebrate Christ at Mass, received his body and blood, listen to Christ address us through the scriptures,  sacred music, through one another, the more our relationship with God is strengthened, and restored, for those who may have had a broken relationship with him, for one reason or the other.

Historically, this has been the understanding of Pope Urban IV who in 1264, who, during the time of the great- Saint Thomas Aquinas, instituted this celebration by encouraging each of us, every year, from different parts of the world to be devoted to Christ, to worship him, to adore him, to sing his praises, to visit with him in the Blessed Sacrament, to venerate him in songs and processions, wherever and whenever we can, knowing that we have an unbreakable relationship with God. 

Today’s solemnity reminds us that we are God’s children of the biblical covenant- a biblical story of what God has done for us through his Son Jesus Christ. Relationship as a whole is found in different cultures and contexts and comes with different signs and symbols!

What we do specifically in our faith context today is rooted in the scriptures, especially in today’s well-chosen passages of the Bible.  You may want to ask yourself, why is today’s first reading from Exodus 24:3-8, on the ritual of sprinkling of animal blood on the altar and on the people chosen for this celebration? One of the answers could be, because it takes us back to the ratification of the sinaitic covenant that God established with his people, Israel. When you read Exodus 19-24 you see and appreciate in full, details and significance of this important covenant rituals. This ritual is repeated in Leviticus 16 and 17, on the Day of Atonement, when blood is again sprinkled by priests in the Holy of Holies.  Since ancient times this sprinkled blood was not only a sacred symbol, but a symbol of life, a sign of purification from sins, filthy things, blessings, peace (shalom), good luck, covenant and life’s renewal in the years ahead. 

We celebrate today, our lives in Christ. The Exodus’ sinaitic covenant provides us the framework for understanding this,  and even for understanding God’s earlier promises to Noah, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. It reminds us of the importance of what we read in the entire, Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. It reminds us that it is God that watches over our lives and successes, and our journeys as exemplified in the entire biblical history- for the Old to the New Testaments.  The covenant ratification of the first reading was also used in measuring the faithfulness of Israel’s Kings. It forms the backdrop for the preaching of Israel’s prophets- leading up to events fulfilled in Christ of the Gospel and of the Letter to the Hebrews- the New Covenant.

Recall, Jeremiah, one of Israel’s prophets, familiar to us, prophesied about this “new covenant”. In chapter 31:31, Jeremiah, foretold,” in the days to come I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah.” A new covenant. Not with animal blood, but written in our hearts- spiritual, powerful, apriori with a new meaning, and symbols, through the events of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us on the Cross.

  The author to the Letter to the Hebrews in the Second reading, Hebrews 9:11-15 eloquently preaches on Christ’s event, n the efficacy of his body and blood.  With his body and blood our rightful relationship with God his father, is guaranteed.

Unlike the Levitical priest, human not divine, Christ, human and divine, our High priest is sinless. He is both the perfect high priest and the perfect sacrifice. Christ’s blood, shaded us on the Cross, on that Good Friday, has a deeper and different meaning.. For us, Christian-believers it is more effective than the blood of the animals shaded annually and sprinkled on the altar and on the people, during the ancient sinaitic days!

Think of it also this way. If the ordinary animal blood could be effective in the context of earthly sacrifice, how much more the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, his body and blood- that gives us life!

Today as we celebrate this Solemnity, Christ invites us, as narrated in that gospel of Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 to remain partakers in his Body and Blood, the source of life, - that puts us in a rightful relationship with God.  In that gospel passage, is it not interesting to hear Christ of Mark once again says,, “Take, this is my body… and for the cup, this is my blood of the covenant,” words we repeat and hear at every Mass we celebrate and attain. 

 By sharing in the body and blood of Christ, we are cleansed from sinfulness, from dead works and we are protected spiritually and morally, and strengthen to worship the living true God. We are kept in that track of holiness that Pope Francis, in March spoke of in his new Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate. We are restored to a rightful covenant- relationship with God, who loves each and every one of us, irrespective of our culture, region and location.

By every one of us we mean the poor and the rich, our families and children; the healthy, the sick, the borne and the unborn, those who are physically alive, and those gone before us marked with the sign of faith.

 Remember also that the Christ we share at Mass, at worships is also alive in our relationship with one another. He is the source of life. He is in the scripture we break, preach and Share. He is in the sacred music we sing. He accompanies us on our journeys. He is the Christ of the peace makers, of good leaders, of champions of unity and of those who are merciful, who live the gospel beatitude and who forgive wrong doings done to them; and promote the culture life.  
As we celebrate this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ may we continue to share our faith experience of the efficacy of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist with our neighbors, friends and family members!

Reflection Questions:
  • 1.      How strong is our faith in the real presence of Christ, in the Bread and Wine blessed by our priests at every Mass?
  • 2.      In light of today’s scriptures how far have we kept the covenant we established with Christ at Baptism?
  • 3.      How does today’s solemnity help us restore our rightful relationship with God and with our neighbors?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

God's Mystery and Consequences of Living in His Spirit( Most Holy Trinity B)

Homily Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Deut 4:32-34, 39-40;
·          Ps 33:4-9, 18-20, 22;
·         Rom 8:14-17
·         Matt 28:16-20

God's Mystery and Consequences of Living in His Spirit

In today’s responsorial Psalm we heard, “Blessed are those (or those people) whom the Lord has chosen as his own.” Or “Happy are the nations whose God is the Lord, the people chosen as his very own’” (NAB). Depending on your translation. Whatever translation you have, today’s responsorial Psalm, in a sense, captures the essence of what we celebrate today, namely, Israel in the presence of God; the Church, everywhere, every nations, our communities in the presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!.
As Moses and Paul would  note in the 1st and 2nd readings, Deuteronomy 4 and Romans 8:14-17, we celebrate today, the consequences of faithfulness, of hope (Duet 4:32-34, 39-40). The Consequences of living in the presence of the Lord, hoping in him, relying on his love and kindness (Rom 8:14-1), include reception of the gifts of adoption, oneness with Jesus, God’s Son, enabling them to call God, Abba, Father (Matt 28:16-20).

 This enabling mysterious working of the spirit of the Lord in each of us, who trust in him, surpasses our human understanding, questioning, rationalization and philosophizing. It takes those who live in the Spirit of the Lord to appreciate the fact and truth of the three persons in One God; the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; a Triune God who loves and cares for us; the mystery of all that God has done for us in our lives, which has always been the subject of faith and reflection for many saints, including Augustine.

Scripturally, today’s readings highlight this mystery of our faith. An important one for that matter. In the 1st reading, Deuteronomy 4, Moses, Israel’s early and greatest prophet exhorts the community of the need to abide with the Lord, keep the faith, and stick with God. He rhetorically reminds them all that God has done for them- the mysteries of creation and wonders in the past including their difficult years in eh wilderness of life and the mystery of freedom and liberation God brought them. For those who live in the spirit of the Lord, God can do for them, what humanly seems impossible.

 I am sure as you reflect on this text, you may have your personal testimonies. Recall God’s wonders including the miracle of the air or oxygen we breathe, the wars he defeated the enemies, the 10 plagues, the miracle of the red sea- all these should strengthen our faith and enable us believe more and more in God- keeping his statues and his basic commandments, namely love of neighbor and God!

He is a miracle working God who out of love journeyed in his son to save us- a son who left us with the Spirit at Pentecost. Each of us become adopted sons and daughters of God when we aloud this spirit of God to lead us. We want not only to read the fruit of this spirit but we want this spirit to lead us always, even as we bring others to catholic faith by our words and deeds.
  Like Moses, Paul though originally addressing the Romans, in the 2nd reading, says, “brothers a sisters, those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you receive the spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, Abba, Father… ” (Rom 8:14-17). What Moses did for his community, exhorting and strengthening their faith and hope, Paul has done for his in Romans 8.  For Paul, this Spirit of God which makes us adopted sons and daughters has eschatological consequence because as heirs and co-heirs (synklēromenoi) we can hope for an inheritance. It allows us to suffer with him (sympaschomen). It allows us to glorify with him (syndaxaschōmen) at the resurrection.

This is the mystery, the faith, the spirit, we celebrate today. It goes back even to the days and times of our baptism as noted in the Gospel. We were all baptized not only with water, but in the name of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:16-20).
As commissioned disciples in the Gospel, by the new Moses, Christ, our redeemer, we are not just only to live always according to the spirit of God, of peace, unity, faith, prayer, love, obedience and complete self-surrendering, but  also we are to go forth, baptize and bring people to Christ and Christ to people.

This is also what Pope Francis has always stand for, since the beginning of his papacy. He notes in his Evangelii Gaudium that, each of us with the spirit in dwelt in us, we must be a church, a community of faith that is willing to reach out, even to the margins. Reason and personal human will should not only be sources of our holiness and reliability in God’s mysteries or trusting in him, but importantly faith, openness to God’s spirit that is also modeled by the gospel beatitudes (Matt 25, Gaudete et exsultate) must be on the top of the list of our spiritual agenda.

If there is anything we want to take home today on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, it is faith not doubt, unity not division, hope not despair, openness to God’s Spirit, trust rather than distrust, and total acceptance of the will God, the consequences of living according to his spirit, especially in moments of temptations and lack of intelligible explanations to certain circumstances of our lives.   “May your love and kindness be upon us, as we place all our hope in you’ (ps 33:22).

Reflection Questions:
  • 1.      What have we learned from today’s solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity?
  • 2.      What does today’s scriptures say to us in light of the mystery we celebrate?
  • 3.      How does today's lessons impact or change the way we introduce our neighbors to Christ or Christ to our neighbors?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Using the Gifts of the Holy Spirit -Given to Us!(Pentecost - Year B)

Homily Pentecost Sunday Year B (Mass during the Day): Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Acts 2:1-11;
·          Psalm 103;
·         I Cor 12:2-3, 12-13
·         Gal 5:16-25
·          John 20:19-20.

Using the Gifts of the Holy Spirit -Given to Us!

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost, 50 days after the celebration of Easter- the resurrection of Christ. The Jews celebrated this feast 50 days after the Feast of Passover- thanking God for the gift of harvest as well for His Sinaitic Covenant with Moses which also occurs 50 days after the beginning of the Exodus in Egypt. There have been many harvests in our lives and of course, some more cultivation and work to do- using the gifts that has been given to us!

For us, in our various dioceses and places of worship, today marks the end of the Easter Season and commemorates the day that the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles, especially, Peter, Stephen and Paul as they spread the gospel in the early the Church.  It’s the role of this spirit on the Church' evangelizing mission that we celebrate today. Since we are all members of the church, it is also a celebration of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christian men, women and children. We need this gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives today more than ever. There is need to use them as well, in order for us to be able to function as true Christians and agents of evangelization without fear and intimidation, despair, quarrel, discrimination and desire for vengeance, bigotry, division and unhealthy competition.

I remember when I was a kid between the ages of 4-10. I always wanted to hold onto my mom whom I loved and depended on. I always cried, sad and disturbed the whole neighborhood each time my mother would leave me home for grocery store in the local market area. Sometimes we do feel the same each time somebody we love is about to leave us.
The Apostles felt the same – they were sad when Jesus indicated last week, in the reading of the Solemnity of Ascension that he was leaving to go to the Father. But, he promised them the Holy Spirit. He planned for them. This planned came to be in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit narrated in today’s Gospel (John 20:19-23).

Holy Spirit was important even throughout the ministry of Jesus.  Remember at his baptism the Spirit descended upon Jesus and named him as his beloved Son of the Father. At the beginning of his public ministry in Luke chapter 4, Jesus invoked the prophecy of Isa 61- “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me. He has anointed me to bring Good news to the poor, and liberty to the captives….”   It was this same Spirit of the Lord that raised Jesus from the dead, and enabled him ascends to the Father.

Just as it was not easy for me when my mum would leave me home momentarily to get to the store for groceries or for any us to lose a dear one, the Bible Readings of today( from Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s Letter to the Corinthian and the Gospel of John) not only present us with the challenges that face the early Christian community after the Ascension of Jesus.
St. Luke tells us in his volume 2, Acts of the Apostles how the persecuted, frightened and post-ascension church could not really teach the mission of Jesus to the understanding of everyone from different tribes and culture until they had received the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the early church was filled with fear, wrangling, uncertainties and confusions.

It was the Holy Spirit that enables the Apostles to face with love and patience the ridicule, the rejection they had to deal with after the ascension of Jesus. It was the Holy Spirit that enables them to be understood by people of all nations listed in today’s first reading. The Spirit of unity. The spirit of endurance in the face of persecution; the spirit of holiness as stressed by Pope Francis in his Gaudete et Exsultate (2018). 

It is the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord, to deal with the challenges that face us today in our families, in the society, in schools, offices, and places of work, in our nations as followers of Christ.

Some of these challenges you know better than I do may include, division, discrimination, quarrels, religious violent (as in Nigeria and in other parts of the world) pride, boasting, abusing our gifts and selfishness in our homes and in politics and in our communities. These are some of the problems that St. Paul addresses in the early Corinthian Church, in our 2nd reading of today (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13)

For Paul in Baptism we are all one body in Christ. Just as the eye cannot say I don’t need the fingers or the nose, my legs or ears are not necessarily, we need one another in Christ. You can't say your next door neighbor or the next person on your left or right is not important. Everyone is needed. All the gifts we have are important and we need your gifts to live in fullness with Christ.  None of us sitting here is a chance factor before God or is not gifted with one gift or another. We are all gifted.

For Paul the sharing of these various spiritual gifts enriches the Church, since they all come from the same Spirit for the common good. In other words these gifts are meant for the common good, for the community.  They may reside in some of us informs of prophecy, teaching, administration, acts of charity, healing, speaking in tongues, apostles, prophets, etc . But usually what this spirit brings should be joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22ff). We need to use them!

Jesus breathed this same Spirit on the Apostles on the evening of that Easter Sunday in today’s Gospel. It is the Spirit of peace, shalom, wholeness to be agents of evangelization and forgiveness. We need to use them!

Let us pray at this Mass for the gift of the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives, those situations in our home, state, and political capitals, so that we may constantly not only feel the presence of God, his peace and joy in our lives, but be able to willingly share it with our neighbors.
Reflection Questions:
  • 1.      In the light of today’s celebration can we identify in our lives- those gifts of the Holy Spirit- in us- and how we have used them?
  • 2.      In moments of despair and persecution (of any kind), how do we trust in the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church?
  • 3.      In what manner do we share this trust of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church with our world today- as Peter, Stephen, Paul and the early Apostles did?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Be lifted up and Make known the Gospel(Ascension year B)

Homily for the Ascension of Our Lord Year B: Fr .Michael Ufok Udoekpo
  • ·         Acts 1:1-11;
  • ·          Ps 47:2-3, 6-9;
  • ·          Eph 1:17-23
  • ·         Mark 16:15-20

Be lifted up and Make known the Gospel

  In different parts of the world, including the ecclesiastical Provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha and Philadelphia here in the States, the Solemnity of Ascension was celebrated on Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter. In other places including the Archdiocese (Milwaukee), Ascension is celebrated today, the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
 Ascension celebrates in a sense the Paschal mysteries of Christ (recall his birth-ministry-passion-death-resurrection and Ascension), and the continuity in the church of the mission begun by Christ her founder.  Remember, during the Passion Week, it was evident that the death of Christ was never going to be a defeat, but a victory, an exaltation, a glorification and a lifting up of the Son of Man, “when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw everyone to myself,” ( John 12:32).

On the Cross, he rose above the pettiness of those who had anything to do with His persecution. He drew to himself the Jews, the Gentiles, men and women, including, the Roman soldiers, the Beloved Disciples, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, everyone was at the foot of the Cross.  With his resurrection and appearances many also including the doubting Thomas came to belief in Christ and finally was able to say, My Lord and My God.”

 The readings of today continue to testify to God’s work in Christ Jesus. In Marks account of the Ascension after Jesus had chatted with his friends and the disciples about faith and continuous spreading of the gospel to all parts of the world fearlessly Jesus, “was lifted up into heaven” where he took his seat at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). Luke who expanded on Mark presents the same testimony in his second volume, the first reading, Acts of the Apostles (1:1-11) confirmed by Paul in the Second reading in Eph 1:17-23.  It is the story of God’s plan of salvation rooted in the story Israel and continue in the Church as witnessed by the Apostles.

 In all these God’ plan is at work. He seated Jesus at his right hand to watch over us; to judge the living and the dead. From there he sends us the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth, the Spirit of mission, the spirit of Evangelization.  Even after the Ascension, the end of today’s Gospel says, “they went forth and preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them and confirm the word through accompanying signs.”

 God never disappoint anyone who trust in Him.  He continues to be at work in us. When we are down he is prepared to lift us up. When we are discouraged he is there to offer us courage. The mission he commissions us today “go out to the whole world and proclaim the gospel,” is not measured by distance. It is measured by faith.  There is mission to be done in this parish/school and residence home/families. It is measured by hope. It is measured by love. It is measured by the way we imitate Christ, his principles and values, in every circumstances of life.

  We are called to be missionaries even onto ourselves, to our children, to our spouses, friends, families and next door neighbors. We are called to preach, pray for and lift out our children and friends out of drug abuse? With his Ascension we are called to transcend faithlessness and continue to pray for our nations to recognize more and more the place of God in our lives, in our politics and homes.

I was so impressed and up lifted yesterday when a friend of mine in New York, actually called from Arizona asking for prayer for his brother, whom he believe was in a very dark and bad place (state of life)... After listening I offered few words of encouragement and upliftment to the family.

Although Christ has departs, today’s solemnity reminds us that Christ still remains with us in the tabernacle, in the Holy Eucharist, in kinds words we share with our neighbors. He is with us in the passages of the Scripture. He is with us in our schools, in our studies, offices, work places and where we live (here in this residence home).  He says, in Matthew 28:19-20 “I am with you always, until the end of the time.”  He is with us in the Church. The story began in the Gospels continue in the Acts of the Apostles and in Pauline writings, including Ephesians today’s second reading and the alternate one, Letter to the Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23.

As Christ was lifted up, let us pray at this Mass that we be lifted up in Spirit to be able to lift up others, especially the poor, the sick and the needy. May we in this changing world continue to believe and make known the Good News of Christ, in our words and actions, in our homes, families and in every situation in life we may find ourselves!
 Reflection Question:
  • 1.      In the light of today’s scriptures what is the spiritual meaning of Ascension for you?
  • 2.      Though Christ has ascended do you see the call to continuity of his mission in the life of the church today?
  • 3.      How do you drive home in our despaired neighbors,  the hope that Christ is watching over his Church, he is present, and that we are called to continue his mission.?