Saturday, 27 May 2017
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mt 28: 16-20
Though the First and Second readings and the Responsorial Psalm are common for all three years A, B and C, the Gospel readings differ on Ascension Sunday. In year A the Church reads from Matthew, in year B from the longer and canonical ending of Mark (Mk -20) and in year C from the last chapter and verses of Luke (Lk 24:46-53). While Mark and Luke clearly mention the detail of Jesus ascending into heaven, Matthew does not. Yet, the scene in Matthew conveys a depth of meaning that the other Synoptic Gospels find difficult to match.
Matthew’s text is made up of two parts. The first of these is the encounter of the disciples with the Risen Lord on the mountain in
Galilee and the second is the commission which the Risen
Lord gives to his disciples. The encounter with the disciples is described as a
matter of fact, as an event which takes place ordinarily. The response of the
disciples to the appearance of Jesus is worship mixed with doubt. This is to
indicate that the Risen Jesus comes to a Church that while it worships also
wavers, while it believes also hesitates, while it has faith also doubts. This
is the Church to which the commission is given and by sacrificing
sensationalism, the text focuses on the words of the Risen Jesus. The
universalizing “All” before the revelation which Jesus makes about his
authority, before the commission that he gives the disciples, and before
assuring them of his abiding presence, makes the whole scene universal in
scope. The local Mission of Jesus has become now universal.
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles already sets the tone for the Universal Mission which the disciples are given. Here they are commissioned to be witnesses not only in
but to the ends of the earth.
However, even as they are commissioned they are cautioned about two things. The
first is patience. They must wait for the gift of the Spirit with openness and
receptivity. The second is that it not for them to know too many details about
time, place and the like. Their job is only to be witnesses. To use the words
of St. Francis of Jerusalem ,
they are called to “Proclaim the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use
words.” They were meant to be those who could give evidence for what they have
seen and heard. They could not be witnesses unless they had met the Risen
Christ—unless their lives have been transformed by him. Their testimony was
about him, not just about what happened long ago and far away. They were to
give evidence about what they themselves have heard, seen, experienced. Assisi
The evidence that they were to give and the message that they were to proclaim, was good news. The message was hope and light and love. It was a message which Jesus himself had taught them and this is what they were to teach. This was why even before Jesus sent them out, he made explicit that the authority was his and not theirs. Their job was not to usurp this authority, but simply to welcome all peoples to make the same discovery that they had made in their faith journey, the discovery of the God of light and of goodness, of mercy and of compassion, of justice and of reconciliation -- and not impose their own cultural values or their own cultural traditions in the process. It was allowing others to make that discovery freely and joyfully. Authority has been given to Christ.
This was remembered by Christians in the first century as is evident in the community living which resulted as a result of the witness to the words and deeds of Jesus. They also realized that the Church was but the body of the Risen Christ and so had to continue to be an extension of him who was raised.
The missionary movement of the Church stemming from the
Mission command of Jesus continued and
does so even today. There are moments in the Church’s history in which we see
truly gracious, noble, altruistic and selfless acts of dedication and service.
A lot of good has been done in every continent and corner of the earth because
the Church continued to take seriously the command of Jesus.
However, it is also true that sometimes we as Church seemed to have forgotten the real message and concentrated on getting converts to the faith at any cost. This has left in some places a memory of hurt, pain, loss and even suffering. We have sometimes missed the point. The mistake that we sometimes make is to forget that the authority rests with Jesus and not with us. Our role continues to be only that of proclaimers who will “disciple” peoples everywhere by teaching them through our lives what Jesus has commanded us and done in us.
Friday, 26 May 2017
Saturday, May 27, 2017 - Do you remember to add at the end of your prayer the words “not my, but your will be done”?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts18:23-28; Jn 16:23-28
The death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus will be the event that will enable the disciples to pray, not only in Jesus’ name, but like he prayed. Through this event, the disciples will enter into a new relationship with Jesus and with God through him. This relationship will be a relationship of love. As God showed his love for the world in sending Jesus, and Jesus showed his love for the world by accepting the cross, so the disciples have shown love for Jesus and God by accepting and believing that Jesus has come from God.
In the last verse of today’s text the entire mission of Jesus is summarized. Jesus has been sent by God and has come from God. After completing the mission entrusted to him, he is returning to where he has come from: God. The story of Jesus, which began with his coming from the Father ends, but also continues with his ascending to the Father.
Thursday, 25 May 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017 - What causes sorrow in you? Can you be described as primarily a “happy” person? If No, why not?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts18:9-18; Jn 16:20-23
Jesus explains in these verses how the disciple’s sorrow will turn to joy. The metaphor of child birth is used to explain the in-breaking of God’s kingdom. Just as the birth of a child turns the pain of the mother into joy, so the in-breaking of God’s kingdom will turn the disciples’ sorrow into joy. Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after his death will be the cause of their sorrow turning to joy. This joy will not be temporary, but permanent, and no one or event will be able to take it away. This is because the whole of life’s perspective will change and the disciples will become a new people, a new creation. On that day, all the questions of the disciples will cease because nothing will need to be explained. It will be as clear as it needs to be.
Sorrow and joy are common everyday experiences of all humans. Sorrow is caused when things do not go the way we expect them to or when people do not respond in the way we want them to. When our expectations are not met, we feel sad and upset. However, after the resurrection of Jesus and his presence among us in his Spirit, sorrow can never be an enduring experience for a believer. It is always temporary. Joy is permanent. This joy is not caused by the happening or not happening of events, it is not caused by our expectations being fulfilled, but by a realization that, in Jesus, God always wants what is best for us and will never do anything that is not for our good and for his glory. It is a realization that, in Jesus, we are loved unconditionally by a God who is Father and who always wants what is best for his sons and daughters.
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017 - Can you be courageous even when it seems that the whole world is conspiring against you?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts18:1-8; Jn 16:16-20
In the first verse of today’s reading, , the focus is turned back from the Paraclete to the impending departure of Jesus and the response of the disciples to that departure. The first “little while” in this verse refers to the time before his death, which Jesus sees as fast approaching, whereas the second “little while” refers to the events after his death to his resurrection appearances and even beyond. The disciples are not able to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words and keep questioning among themselves what they mean.
Though they have not addressed Jesus with their questions, he is aware of what they are discussing. Yet, he does not answer their question directly, but moves the question to a new direction. A new teaching is introduced by the use of the words, “Amen, amen”. There will be contrasting responses to the death of Jesus. The disciples will weep and mourn, whereas the “world”, which here must be translated as those opposed to the revelation of God in Jesus, will rejoice. However, this will only be a temporary response. The pain and sorrow of the disciples will soon turn to joy.
It is easy to be happy and believe that God is on our side when things go the way we want. However, when we are faced with obstacles and difficulties, when we do not get the due we think we deserve and, when the road is steep and the going is difficult, then we begin to wonder if God is on our side. The text of today is a call to believe, even in the most difficult circumstances. It is a call to know that there will be joy, even in the midst of pain, and happiness, even in the midst of sorrow. It is a call to have faith and see the risen Jesus, even as he hangs on the cross, and to see in the crosses that we have to carry every day, our own resurrection.