Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Solemnity of Ascension Year A: Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

The Ascension of the Lord (Thursday) Year A:- Reflections – Fr .Michael U. Udoekpo
 Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-9; Eph 1:17-23 and Matt 28:16-20

Lifted up to make known the Good News

 In different parts of the world, depending on the wise decision of the Conference of Bishop, the Solemnity of Ascension can be celebrated on Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter, or on the Seventh Sunday of Easter. In our nation and diocese this Thursday has been chosen for the celebration of this mystery of Exaltation of Christ, our High Priest.

What we celebrate today is a culmination of the events of the Paschal mysteries of Christ, his enthronement on the Cross. Remember, during the Passion Week, it was evident that the death of Christ was never going to be a defeat, but a victory, and a lifting up of the son of Man, an exaltation and  a glorification. Didn’t Jesus in John 12:32, said “when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw everyone to myself.”

On the Cross, he rose above the pettiness of those who had anything to do with His persecution. He drew, the Jews, and the Gentiles, men and women, including, the Roman soldiers, the women on the foot of the cross, the Beloved Disciples, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea unto himself.  With his resurrection many, including the doubting Thomas came to belief in Christ, as “their Lord and God.”

Today in Acts of the Apostles, Jesus while being surrounded by the Apostles, is on another level of being lifted up to heavens, where he seats at the right hand of the Father ( Eph 1:17-23), to judged the living an the dead, to watch over each and everyone of us. From there he sends us the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth, the Spirit of mission, the spirit of Evangelization. Didn’t  Christ say to his disciples today in the Gospel, “Go therefore and make disciples of  all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”(Matt 28:16-20).

I have do doubt this is the same Spirit that brought Father Walsh,  an Irish Priest to Eastern Nigeria to minister Baptism to me more than 40 years ago.   Many other priests, religious and nuns from Europe guided by the same Holy Spirit opened schools, and hospitals, orphanages and churches in Africa.  May God bless them! Here I am today guided by the same Spirit, to minister baptism, the Sacraments and the Word of God to many parishioners, students and families outside my original birth place.

This is not to say that the mission commissioned by Christ today is measured only by distance. It is also measured by faith, hope and love, and by the way we imitate the personality and principles of Christ. We are called to be missionaries even onto ourselves, our children, families and next door neighbor. How do we preach our children and friends out of drug abuse? How do we handle “no prayer in the public” or re-instilled discipline and Christian ethics in our society. And what about many other challenges facing the Church in our nations.

Today’s feast also reminds us that, although Christ departs, he still remains with us in the tabernacle, in the Holy Eucharist.  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. He says, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

Let us pray at this Mass that as Christ was lifted up, we may be lifted up in Spirit to believe and to make known the Good News of Christ, in our words and actions, in our homes and families, and wherever we go.