ON THIS SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD we as a Church mark the culmination of Christ’s mission on earth and marks the beginning of the apostles’ mission to all nations. So after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, what are we to do? Do we sit around and wait for something to happen or do we go and do something? How did Jesus respond to the question of the disciples in the first reading about restoring the kingdom to Israel? He said, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). We are not to sit around and wait, we are to do something, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Clearly we are not to sit back and just let society and the culture around us rot. We are called to make society and the culture holy and we can do by witnessing that we follow Christ. The Second Vatican Council published 16 very important documents and one of the documents reminds us that the laity are called to make the world holy in ways which only the laity can:
- Now the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium §33)
- …even when preoccupied with temporal cares, the laity can and must perform a work of great value for the evangelization of the world. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium §35)
- …let the laity also by their combined efforts remedy the customs and conditions of the world, if they are an inducement to sin, so that they all may be conformed to the norms of justice and may favor the practice of virtue rather than hinder it. By so doing they will imbue culture and human activity with genuine moral values…(Vatican II, Lumen Gentium §36)
Clearly elected officials who identify themselves as Catholic are called not to make the whims of society become law but to make laws that reflect who we are as children of God. If someone believes that he or she is a Catholic outside the voting booth, but changes inside the voting booth, that suggests someone who adopts a compartmentalized approach to life as a disciple of Christ: living by the teachings of scripture in this situation, but not in that situation. After Jesus’ ascension what are we to do? Do we sit around and wait for something to happen or do we go and do something? Sitting around and waiting for something to happen is the mistaken view of some disciples in Luke’s account of the ascension which we heard in the first reading and of some Christians today. Jesus said we are not to sit around and wait, we are to do something, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In the Gospel Jesus was even more specific when talking to the Apostles. Before Jesus ascended, he entrusted his mission to the Apostles saying, “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt 28:19). While that mission was entrusted to the Apostles, and to the bishops who are the successors of the Apostles, and their assistants, the priests, all are called to assist in the mission to evangelize by giving witness that we follow Christ, especially in those situations where we are the one to give witness to Christ. Is Christ relying on any of us to witness to Him where no one else will? Of course He is, and as His brothers and sisters we can do it. I wish to conclude with part of the prayer in the second reading today: “May God our Father…enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers” (Eph 1:17-19). What a wonderful privilege we all enjoy as sons and daughters of God since baptism. How wonderful is this calling that we have all received. How wonderful are the riches of heaven that God has planned for us, it certainly makes us see all our striving after riches here in a new light, and how wonderful is the power God worked in Jesus’ resurrection to raise us all to new life.
CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES ~ This is the time of year when we congratulate and pray for all have graduated from college, those who have earned their post-graduate degrees, those who are graduating from high school, and all who have earned their degrees and now move on to the next stage in their lives. Remember to thank God for all that He has given you – gifts, abilities, talents – and put what God has given you to work in one way or another in building up God’s kingdom here on earth.
WE ARE MARCHING ALONG WITH THE BISHOP’S ANNUAL APPEAL ~ We have just $4,000 and change to go in order to meet our Diocesan goal. Once that is met (hopefully this week) all monies pledged beyond that point come back to the Cathedral parish to pay for our new interior lighting system. BAA envelopes in the pews for your convenience, and were recently mailed to your homes. Thank you for supporting the BAA – a detailed summary is on the next page!
-Fr. Mike Lumpe