How quickly those days with Jesus after he rose from the dead must have passed for his disciples. How amazed the apostles were, and yet how painful it must have been for the apostles when he summoned them to the mountain and told them that he was leaving them and returning to his father.
Thirty-three years before the event of the ascension, Jesus came to this earth to suffer and die on the cross and reunite us to His father. By his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus provided satisfaction for original sin, and for the sins of humanity. Today, we celebrate His return to the right hand of His Father.
Today’s Feast of the Ascension celebrates the triumph of Jesus Christ over sin, suffering and death. For a period of forty days after his resurrection, Jesus’ appearances to the apostles and disciples gave them proof that He was still with them.
He prepared meals for them, he ate fish with them, Thomas put his hand into Jesus’ side. His ascension was simply the last appearance of Jesus before He took his place at the right-hand of His Father.
At the ascension, Jesus did not leave us orphans struggling in desperation. He sent the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the Church in the great commission which He gave to His apostles and their successors: “Go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Along with the apostles, we too have been called and commissioned to be witnesses of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. We too are called to carry out His commission wherever we find ourselves – in every place and in every time. “You are to be my witnesses…even to the ends of the earth.”
To be witnesses and disciples of Jesus simply means that we truly try to “live” our faith by everything we say and do. We have all heard the old adage: “actions speak louder than words!” Talk is easy – living the faith is a challenge and a commitment. It is said that most people would rather see a sermon rather than hear one.
That is why on this Memorial Day weekend, we look to the sermon preached by our brothers and sisters who have died in the service of our country. Memorial Day each year provides a unique opportunity to pause and reflect, on the heroic sacrifices that have been made by so many men and women in the service of our country. These brave men and women, whose memory we recall, gave their lives, or suffered terrible wounds so that we could be free. But through the passing of the years, the wars in which they fought have become distant memories, or mere stories in history books.
We need this Memorial Day to remember their ultimate sacrifice, lest we forget! There are also others we need to remember on this Memorial Day weekend:
The first victims of the nuclear age, whose lives were taken in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; those who died in prison camps throughout the world; the six million Jews who were exterminated by Hitler; the other six million Polls and Czechoslovakians who we do not hear about – who were exterminated in Dachau, Buchenwald and Auschwitz because of their catholic faith and their opposition to communism.
We need to remember those who have died in the senseless violence on the streets of every city and town in America. We need to remember those innocent victims of September 11th and the millions of others whose lives have been snuffed out through the atrocity of abortion, and the lives of those sacrificed on the altars of prejudice, hunger, neglect and hatred.
We need to remember those whose lives have been destroyed by drugs and alcohol. We need to remember the blood of those martyrs – which is still being spilled simply for being followers of Jesus Christ.
Today as we remember role models who gave their lives in the many battles of war, on this Feast of the Ascension, the Church reminds of our call to carry the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth by everything we say and everything we do.
On this Memorial Day weekend, as we remember the dead and enjoy cookouts – remember the freedom we enjoy to practice our faith. – treasure it! Love it!