The Ascension of the Lord
Today’s readings presume that the celebration of the feast of the Ascension will occur on the following Sunday (as is the case in most of the dioceses of the United States).
Today is also the day that the Passionists of Holy Cross Province begin their quadrennial Provincial Chapter, a meeting which elects leadership and considers the policies by which the Province is governed for the next four years.
Both of today’s readings offer us encouragement for the tasks at hand as members of Christ’s body, the Church.
In furthering the Mission of Christ and His Church, there are those moments when we feel that we may have aimed too high, had expectations that are now seeming unattainable, we may even have wondered whether this is really the path that leads to the Kingdom.
The disciples mentioned in the gospel knew that feeling; they had had it before, and they know that they will feel it again. "We do not know what he means." However, "Jesus knew what they wanted to ask him…" It is part of the following of Christ that we continue in our resolution to contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God, although there are days of doubts and questions. Jesus knows what we want to ask, and He provides us with what we need for the Mission he has entrusted to us.
Paul personalizes this relationship of the disciple with Jesus in a way that has become the model for all missionaries and for all who proclaim the Kingdom of God. Paul has experienced the conversion of his heart from adversary to apostle of the Gospel, the Good News of Salvation. He has given his life over to the public proclamation of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Nevertheless, he is rebuffed by the Jews of Corinth, one more confrontation that challenges the meaning of his conversion from a devout Jew who persecuted the Christians, to a Christian Jew who longs to bring his people to the Good News sent by God.
Perhaps this is the most universal of the things taught to Paul by the action of the Holy Spirit in his life: that "his people" are to be all of "God’s People", and that means no longer a Jewish world of missionary outreach, but an outreach to the whole of God’s People, to the Gentile world.
God’s call to Paul broadened his perspective, widened his compass, made him more aware of the world beyond the Synagogue. May God, in calling us to the following of Christ, also keep us from constraining the Gospel; may we Passionists, in Chapter sessions this week learn to proclaim the saving message of the Cross to a broader and wider world than we can even imagine today; may each of you, who share these reflections with us, find in your hearts the breadth and width of the power of God’s eternal and all-encompassing love to share with all of God’s people.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the Director of Missions and the Director of Mission Effectiveness for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago.