Thursday, 18 May 2023 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the whole Church celebrates the occasion of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, marking the moment when the Lord Jesus Christ, forty days after His glorious Resurrection from the dead, ascended in glory to His heavenly Throne. The Lord Jesus ascended in glory by His own power, leaving behind this world but not abandoning His disciples and followers. He ascended to prepare for us all our places by His side in Heaven, to welcome us all in the end of time, to prove to us that we all truly have something to look forward to in our faithful and dedicated life. Each and every one of us are reminded of this most joyous moment and time, emphasising to us that Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in Whom we have put our faith, truly came from the Father in Heaven, and has returned to His place in Heaven, the Son of God incarnate, showing us the love of God manifested in the flesh.

In our first reading today, we all heard from the Acts of the Apostles detailing to us how the Lord ascended to Heaven in glory, before His assembled disciples and followers, and promising to them all the coming of the Holy Spirit, Who would guide and strengthen them in their journey and work, and Who would lead them to go forth and fulfil the commands and mission that He has entrusted to them, to proclaim the Good News of God to all the people of all the nations, and to baptise them all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He ascended to Heaven afterwards and this was witnessed by His disciples, many of whom would suffer persecution and even martyrdom in subsequent years and decades, and they endured all those sufferings with faith, exactly because they have seen everything that the Lord had done, how He has risen from the dead and was with them, and ascended into Heaven.

If the Lord Jesus has not truly come from Heaven and if He had been a fraud and false Messiah as how some among His enemies and opponents claimed, then His disciples and followers would not have persevered and endured in their faith in such a manner. Many of them have experienced everything that the Lord had said and done, and witnessed His Resurrection and Ascension as mentioned, and therefore, they were willing to even die to defend their faith in the Lord. Everything also happened as how the Lord has promised the disciples, with the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles and the other disciples, heralding the birth of the Church, and encouraged them all to go forth and proclaim the Good News, spreading the words of the Gospels of salvation to more and more people who also come to believe in the Lord Jesus and His truth.

In our second reading today, all of us heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians regarding how Lord has revealed to His Church, to all of us the revelation of His truth and glory, everything that He has told and brought upon us, and most importantly, how all of us believe in and follow this Lord and God, Who is the Almighty God, the Master and King of all Creation. Not only that, but it also reminded us that we believe in this Jesus Christ, as Christians, and that He is not just merely like any Man, or any other beings. By His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, the Lord has shown us all that He truly came from His heavenly abode, from eternity and glory, coming down upon each and every one of us so that by dwelling among us and by His appearance in this world, He might save each one of us from being destroyed and crushed by our sins and wickedness.

This reminds us all that our faith in the Lord is not something that is nonsense and imaginary. By the testimony of faith and the evidence that the Church as well as other historical records have passed down to us, all of us know that our God is real, and although He did not leave behind much earthly existence, because He has ascended into Heaven, but He was there for us all, has been with us and shown us the love of God manifested to us, and He is and will always be there for us, guiding and helping us all throughout the way. He has sent us all the Holy Spirit to guide us and to strengthen us, to encourage and empower us, just as how the Holy Spirit encouraged the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord to do what they had been sent forth to do, in proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, the words of God’s salvation to His people.

In our Gospel passage today, that is what the Lord has told hIs disciples to do, to go forth to the nations and to all the people, and to proclaim God and His truth, His love and everything that He has done through the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ Himself, Who has shown us the love of God manifested and approachable in the flesh, and by Whose Passion, suffering and death has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life and glory. All these are brought upon us through Christ, and the Good News have to therefore be spread throughout the whole world, so that more and more people may come to believe in the truth that Christ Himself has proclaimed. And all of us as the members of the same Church of God are the bearers of this Good News and truth, which we have to proclaim in our own works and in whatever capacity and opportunities that the Lord has given us.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, all of us are reminded as well that forty days have passed in this joyful and glorious season of Easter. How have we been living through our Easter season? Have we been idling around and been ignorant of our calling and mission as Christians? Have our words, actions and deeds been reflective of our Christian faith and beliefs? If we call ourselves as Christians and yet we do not practice our faith, our carry out our actions, deeds and works, and if our words and interactions with each other are not reflective of our faith in God, then how can we expect others around us or those whom we encounter and interact with can become believers as well? Not only that, in fact, there had been many cases where people both within and outside the Church had been scandalised by the wicked and less-than-worthy actions by our fellow Catholics, who have not lived their lives the way they should have. The sad reality is that there are many Christians within the Church who have become lukewarm and even dead in the faith, abandoning the Lord for worldly pursuits and other things.

And lest we easily point finger and blame others, or think that this problem is what others have but not us, let us all look upon ourselves first, our way of life, our predisposition and our actions. If we truly have lived our lives in the most Christian manner, obeying the Law and commandments of God, showing love for both God and for our fellow men alike, then well done indeed, and we should continue doing that. It is by all these that we can truly be missionary and evangelising in the way how the Apostles and the many saints and holy missionaries in the past had done. Many became believers not only because of the miracles and wonders that they had done, but also because of the faith and dedication which our holy predecessors had shown in their lives, in how they committed themselves to God and to His path, and also in how they loved and cared for each other.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to be the beacons of the light of God, which Christ our Lord has shown and passed on to us. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to a virtuous and worthy life that all of us as Christians have been expected to do in our own respective lives? All of us should no longer be hesitant or ignorant to do as God has told us all to do, as our first and most important mission as Christians is evangelisation, to go forth and spread the faith to others, just as the Lord told His disciples in the Great Commission, ‘Go forth and make disciples of all the people of all the nations, and baptise them all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ And we do not have to seek for great things or worry that we have to aim for great achievements and wonders. We do not have to compare or worry, but instead let the Holy Spirit to help and lead us down the path, and entrust ourselves to God Who will show us how we can glorify Him by our lives.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this great Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, let us all remind ourselves that we have important mission in our lives, by doing our best in whatever we do in life, in whatever opportunities we have received and in whichever places that we have been called to, in our various respective ministries and vocations, be it as those called to the priesthood and holy orders, or those called to the religious and consecrated life, or those called to a life of holy singlehood and other forms of ministry associated with that, and of course as Christian couples and families tasked with the building of the faithful Christian families, the foundations of our Church and Christian faith, where our faithful future and young generations ought to be raised well in the Christian faith and truth of God. Each one of us should do our best to proclaim the Lord and His Good News, to those around us, both within and outside the Church, by our exemplary and faithful life.

May the Lord, ascended in glory onto His Throne in Heaven, most excellent and almighty, continue to guide us all His Church and all of us His beloved ones, in our path and way of life so that we may truly be the inspirational and worthy beacons of His light, truth and love. May all of us continue to strive to be faithful in all things, and do our best to be good role models and inspiration as the missionaries and disciples of our Lord in our world today, ever inspired, strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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