July 2023 - Why Christ's ascension should matter to you
The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated 40 days after Easter (Resurrection) Sunday. It falls on a Thursday each year and is a holy day of obligation. Catholics are obliged to attend Mass in order to hear God’s word and the homily and to receive the Eucharist.
The feast serves as a reminder that this world is not our home. When His disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus reminded them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, then you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:6-7). Their faces must have fallen because, despite numerous reminders, they have continued to miss the point of Jesus’ mission.
Jesus came to restore the natural order and sow the seeds of peace through the lives and actions of those who believe in Him. This peace is not just so that there will be plenty of food and money for all. Jesus wants to prepare a people fit for the kingdom of God. This preparation includes repentance from sins, justice for the oppressed, respect for the sanctity and dignity of every human person, and care for God’s creation.
Our life on earth is a rehearsal for our life in heaven where Christ is seated, far above the heavenly beings — angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, cherubim, seraphim, authorities, principalities, and powers (Eph 1:21) — interceding on our behalf before the Father.
How then should you prepare for heaven?
- Fear to offend God more than you love to please others.
- Surrender your heart to God, who loves you more than anyone else does.
- Love others and love yourself (do not become an enemy to your own progress).
- Desire the wisdom that God gives to all who seek Him with a sincere heart.
- Remain in a state of grace and nurture your spiritual life.
- Place your hope in God and not in humans because God alone is trustworthy and faithful.
- Be on mission for Christ: make disciples, lead others to baptism, and teach them to observe God’s commands. It all begins with how you are living your life at this moment.
- Let all your actions and work be “done to the glory of God.”
Lord, keep my eyes fixed on you and on serving you. May your Son, who has ascended to your right hand, continue to intercede for us and obtain for us holiness of life and the courage to live lives worthy of our Christian call through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Father Joseph Osunde, OP