May 20, 2012 — Seventh Sunday of Easter
Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26; Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20; 1 Jn 4:11-16; Jn 17:11b-19
Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; Eph 1:17-23 or Eph 4:1-13 or Eph 4:1-7, 11-13; Mk 16:15-20
For some of us, today marks the feast of the Ascension, while for others it is the seventh Sunday of the Easter Season (for those dioceses, the feast of the Ascension was celebrated Thursday). In either case, we continue to celebrate the Easter Season. We rejoice in Christ’s resurrection, and, Christ having ascended into heaven, we look forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
There are a number of possible readings for today, depending on what feast your particular diocese celebrates, so for our purposes here, we will draw on a few of them from each feast and reflect on what seems to be a common theme throughout: our role and responsibility as disciples to proclaim the Good News of the resurrected Christ.
Christian disciples have always been charged to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ — even as He walked the earth Himself.
We hear in the story Jesus calling Simon (Peter) and Andrew, He invites them: “come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Drawing others to Christ and building the Church has always been a big part of what it means to be a disciple. First we must give ourselves to Him, completely, and then, in giving ourselves, using the gifts He has given us, we must proclaim the Good News and build His kingdom.
That call of discipleship does not change with Jesus’ ascension. He is still here — physically in the Eucharist and spiritually everywhere, AND He promises to send the Spirit (a reality we will celebrate next Sunday on Pentecost. Armed, then with the gift of His Spirit, and His grace therein, we boldly proclaim, “Christ has risen.” Christ has come for all. And He offers salvation to all who accept it. It is an awesome (in the literal sense of the word) Gospel that we proclaim. And when we proclaim it in courage full of faith in the Lord whom we proclaim, we are sure to beckon others to Him.
“We have seen and testify that the Father sent His Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in Him and He in God” (second reading for seventh Sunday of Easter).
It may seem a far-fetched idea for us, in this day and age — to boldly proclaim the Gospel, but the fact is, we are called just as personally and profoundly as the disciples in Jesus’ day. He calls each one of us by name, and invites us to follow Him. He wants to make us fishers of men. We must simply give Him our yes, offer Him ourselves, and proclaim the Gospel without reservation.
“I urge you to live in a manner of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love. … You were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. … But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (second reading for the Ascension).
This means that the way we live our lives must show people that Jesus lives, that He is real, and that He comes first. When people see us — day in and day out – they should see a witness of Jesus’ truth. We should live for Him, every minute of every day, and happily so, after all, life as Christ’s disciple is the most fulfilling life we could even begin to dream up. It is He Whom we were created to live for, and His blessings are beyond measure.
As we continue to celebrate the Easter Season, may we boldly and joyfully proclaim, Christ has risen, AND He ascended into heaven — Body and Spirit.
He lives! Alleluia!