From the Pastor's Desk
ASCENSION OF THE LORD
Today’s readings describe the Ascension of the Lord Jesus into his Heavenly glory after promising his disciples the Holy Spirit as their source of Heavenly power and commanding them to bear witness to him by their lives and preaching throughout the world. But the ascended Jesus is still with us through his indwelling Holy Spirit as he has promised, "I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” Today’s feast is a celebration of Jesus’ final glorification after his suffering, death and Resurrection – a glory in which we also hope to share.
The first reading gives an account of the event of the Ascension as recorded in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. First, Jesus instructed his apostles to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the baptism by the Holy Spirit so that they might become his “witnesses to the ends of the earth” by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then a cloud took Jesus from the sight of the disciples and two Heavenly messengers in white garments gave them the assurance of Jesus’ “second coming” or return in glory.
The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 47) suggests that by his Ascension, the risen Lord "mounts his throne" in glory.
In the second reading, Paul explains the theological meaning of Jesus’ exaltation, giving us the assurance that one day, we too will be ascending to Heavenly Glory provided we fulfill the mission entrusted to us by the ascending Lord.
Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus ascended to Heaven after giving his final blessing and missionary command to his disciples. The command was to proclaim the Good News to the whole creation,” “to be his witnesses," and “to make disciples of all nations.” (Mt 28:16-20, Mk 16:15-20, Lk 24:46-53, Acts 1:1-11).
Life messages: 1) We need to be proclaimers and evangelizers: To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. We preach with words, but we proclaim with our lives. Let us ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Jesus by our transparent Christian lives.
2) We have a teaching mission: Jesus taught us lessons of Faith, Hope, Love, forgiveness, mercy and salvation by his life and preaching and gave us the mission to teach these to others. Hence, let us learn about Jesus and his teachings by our daily study of the Bible and the teachings of the Church, experience Jesus in personal prayer, reception of the Sacraments and works of charity, and convey to others Jesus whom we have experienced with the help of the Holy Spirit. 3) The ascended Jesus is our source of strength and encouragement: We will be able to overcome doubts about our Faith and baseless fears, anxieties and worries by meditating on Jesus’ Ascension and the lesson it teaches -- that we, too, are called to share his glory in Heaven.
SUNDAY (May 13) MOTHER’S DAY:
Today we thank our mothers, pray for them and honor them by celebrating Mother’s Day and by offering our mothers on the altar of God.
The origin of “Mother’s Day.” Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948), first suggested the national observance of an annual day honoring all mothers because she had loved her own mother so dearly. At a memorial service for her mother on May 10, 1908, Miss Jarvis gave a carnation (her mother’s favorite flower), to each person who attended. Within the next few years, the idea of a day to honor mothers gained popularity, and Mother’s Day was observed in a number of large cities in the U.S. On May 9, 1914, by an act of Congress, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. He established the day as a time for “public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” By then it had become customary to wear white carnations to honor departed mothers and red to honor the living, a custom that continues to this day. Proverbs 31:10-31 presents us with God’s description and estimation of what a godly wife and mother looks like.
The role of mothers in our lives: This is a day to admit gratefully the fact that none of us is able to return, in the same measure, all the love that our mothers have given us. Their influence on their children is so great that it affects the children throughout their lives. Our mothers not only gave us birth but nursed us, nurtured us, trained us in their religious beliefs and practices, taught us good manners and ideal behavior, disciplined us as best as they could and made us good citizens of our country, our Church and our society. There is a beautiful Spanish proverb: "An ounce of mother is better than a pound of clergy." Hence, it is highly proper for us to express our love and gratitude to our mothers by our presence, gifts and prayers on Mother’s Day. We offer this Eucharistic celebration on Mother’s Day for all the mothers in our congregation, whether they are alive or have gone for their eternal reward. The word “mom” is synonymous with sacrificial, agápe love in its purest form, as given by Jesus in his farewell speech: "Love one another as I have loved you.” Hence, let us lavish our love on our mothers and express our gratitude for them in the form of fervent prayers offered for them before God.
Remember that a Christian has two mothers: On Mother’s Day, let us acknowledge the truth that we have two mothers: our earthly mother and our Heavenly Mother, the Mother of Jesus. The Catholic Church proclaims the great nobility of the Mother of Jesus, Mary most holy, and presents her as the supreme model for all mothers. On this Mother’s Day, presenting all mothers on the altar, let us sing the beautiful song we sing on the Feast of the Presentation, “Gentle woman, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom, teach us love.” Let us show our love and appreciation for both of our mothers, and let us ask our Heavenly Mother to take care of our earthly mothers. We need to be persons for others, sacrificing our time, talents and lives for them, as our mothers are.