The Bishops Homily: Ascension Sunday 2017

Ascension Day (7th Sunday Of Easter)
Acts 1:1-11
Eph. 1:17-23
(A) Mt. 28:16-20

INTRODUCTION: The day of the Lord’s Ascension, Jesus commissioned all of his disciples: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations!” (Mt. 28: 19) This instruction from the Lord beckons every baptized to be communicators of the Good News.

(1) Access to the media — thanks to technological progress — makes it possible for people to share news instantly and spread it widely. That news can be good or bad, true or false. Let us engage in constructive communication that breaks the vicious circle of anxiety or sows a spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” as if evil has no limits. In a communications industry that thinks good news do not sell and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turns into entertainment, it is always a temptation that our consciences are dulled or slip into pessimism. Pope Francis wants to contribute his share to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. Offer the people storylines that are at best “good news”.

(2) Life is not simply a bare succession of events but a story waiting to be told through the choice of interpretative lens. In and of itself, reality has no one clear meaning. Everything depends on the way we look at things, on the lens we use to view them. If we change that lens, reality itself becomes different. How do we “read” reality through the right lens? For us Christians, that lens can only be “the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk. 1:1) With these words, Mark opens his Gospel not by telling some “good news” about Jesus but rather the good news that is Jesus himself. Its content is the very person of Jesus! This good news — Jesus himself — is not good because it has nothing to do with suffering but rather because suffering itself becomes a part of a bigger picture. It is seen as an integral part of Jesus’ love for the Father and for all mankind. In Christ God has shown his solidarity with every human situation. “I am with you” (Is. 43:5) means that we are not alone because God is immersed in the history of his people, including our weakness, even to dying our death. Seen in this light every tragedy can also become a setting for good news.

(3) This right lens gives hope and confidence in the Kingdom of God, already present in our midst, like a seed that is easily overlooked, yet silently takes root. Those to whom the Holy Spirit grants keen vision can see it blossoming. They do not let themselves be robbed of the joy of the Kingdom by the weeds that grow up all around.

CONCLUSION: This hope based on the good news which is Jesus himself makes us lift up our eyes to contemplate the Lord in this Feast of the Ascension. Even though the Lord may now appear more distant, the horizons of hope expands all the more. In Christ who brings our human nature into heaven, every man and woman can now freely “enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus.” (Heb. 10: 19-20) By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be witnesses and “communicators” of a new and redeemed humanity “even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1: 7-8) It is, therefore, possible to highlight the good news present in every story and in the face of each person.

(Adapted from Pope Francis’ Message)
Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches