As we move from one stage of life to another we are forced at some point to let go of?past ways and move on adopting newer patterns of behavior. As infants we had to be carried and fed, as children we had to hold our parents hands as we moved about. As teenagers we tended to be independent yet we needed guidance and help sometimes. As adults we believe we can manage on our own. But in our faith relationship we always need God and cannot manage
without Him. At the Ascension we are given a new presence of God within us! Have an exciting weekend discovering his new presence in us!
The first reading begins with the first chapter of the first book of the Acts, that links the birth of the Church to the moment Jesus is taken up to heaven, reminding us that the Church itself is the new presence of Jesus in our midst. Lest the disciples think that they can manage by themselves relying on their own resources, they are ordered not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father. For us who are used to action, one of the most difficult things is to wait for God to act. The apostles?wanted to know God's plan and hope that they will have some say in how God's plan will work out. If we look at our own experiences we are forever making plans for ourselves and for how God should act in our lives. We sometimes even set deadlines for when God should act in our lives. Our plans usually rotate around:??'I', 'me', and 'myself', while God has still more wonderful plans, which will unfold if we wait on him.
How did you know what's in there?
A young lad was on his way to school and as he passed the sculptor's yard, he noticed a huge block of marble on a stand, and the sculptor was getting ready to begin a new project. The young lad had to continue on his way and he was disappointed to discover that the front doors of the sculptor's workshop were closed every day after that, as he passed by on his way to and from school. Each day however as he passed, he could hear the sound of chisel and hammer, and he knew the work was progressing. He longed for the day for the front doors to be open again, and his curiosity would be satisfied by discovering what the task in hand was. The great day finally arrived. One morning, on his way to school, he found the front doors open, and wandered in for a look. He was awe-struck to discover that where the original block of marble had been; there was now a figure of a tiger, huge, menacing and very life-like. The lad continued to stare at this for some moments, in total amazement. Then he turned to the sculptor, and, in total innocence, asked: "Excuse me, sir, but, but, how did you know there was a tiger in there?" - Love sees the possibilities and faith realises them!
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel Truth!'
In the Gospel we have Jesus bidding farewell to his disciples. He makes them understand the recent happenings and how they fit into the Father's plan. "He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. That the Messiah had to suffer, and to rise again from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to
be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. "The Spirit comes to give us the gift of understanding." The Word of God comes alive and makes sense when we can see how it connects to our life, when we see that it all fits in. But in order to understand we have to stay until we are filled, renewed, recreated by the Spirit. "Stay here in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." We may have wonderful ideas and?plenty of experience and feel that we can manage with what we have. But if we are ready to wait, if we are ready to surrender to the Spirit, something still more wonderful will happen in our life. The gospel concludes with Jesus blessing his disciples, withdraws from their sight and was carried into heaven. His mission was accomplished, now theirs was about to begin!
It is time we got busy
The Ascension was Jesus' last show up to his disciples. They watched in amazement as Jesus was carried up into the heaven. Their necks were bent and sore, their hands shielding their eyes from the glare of the sun as they starred open-mouthed into the sky. "What is going on now?" they must have thought. As they stood there in silence, staring up at the sky as Jesus disappeared from their view. Well, in case they were not, in fact, listening to Jesus right before he left, they certainly listened a few minutes later when two men in white robes suddenly appeared before them and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?" Why are you standing around hurting your necks like that? You are not accomplishing anything just standing there! Weren't you listening to Jesus? It's time to get busy... You are the witnesses. The whole adventure of following Jesus is not about accommodating to the expectations of this world; it is about being witnesses, so that the transformation going on in you, can go on in those around you, in this city, in this world. No more looking up to the sky in expectation of a show. You are the witnesses, and you should be busy about the business of transformation.
John Payappilly in 'The Table of the Word'
Scripting the Transformation
It was June 1989, and you probably remember it. For months there had been organized protests by students, intellectuals and labour activists in the People's Republic of China, protests calling for reform of Government policies limiting freedom. Early in the morning of June 4, the people's Liberation Army sent troops and tanks into the middle of the protests, into Tiananmen Square to crush protests and disperse the
crowds. The massacre was heartbreaking.
Reports vary on the number of protesters who had died that day in Tiananmen Square, but most put the numbers in the thousands. Organizers who had worked to ensure peaceful protests were stunned and the whole world watched in horror as the situation unfolded. Early the next morning, June 5, Associated Press photographer Jeff Widener was looking off his balcony on the sixth floor of the Beijing Hotel. He suddenly saw, about half a mile away, a column of four army tanks making their way down the Chang An Da Jie, the "Great Avenue of Everlasting Peace". He pulled out his camera, attached a very powerful lens and trained it on the scene unfolding in front of him. The picture he took, called 'Tank Man' by some, was broadcast all over the world just a few hours later. It was a picture of four huge army tanks lined up in succession on the road. Right in front of the first tank there stands a man, one lone man wearing a white shirt and black pants and holding a bag in his hand. As the tanks came to a stop it appeared that the man was trying to wave them away. The front tank then tried to change course and steer around the man, but he kept moving to stand in front of the tank as a sign of resistance. Witnesses say that the man finally climbed up on the top of the lead tank to talk to the driver. "Why are you here?" he reportedly asked. "My city is in chaos because of you. Go back, turn around, and stop killing my people." -If you were to look at this picture you would see such a striking image. You would see the long line of formidable war machinery lined up ready to attack. And you would see very clearly the form of one lone man blocking the progress of violence. This is the image of the kind of transformation Jesus was inviting his disciples to participate in. If we are followers of Jesus, then we cannot afford to stand around. The Gospel of Jesus is the way of transformation, and the invitation we received
from Jesus is to be different, to live our lives ushering in the reign of God. It is time we got busy.
Amy Butler in 'Scripting the Transformation'
The Spirit -The Key
Zig Ziglar tells the story about an elderly man playing an organ in a cathedral in Europe. He was playing sad and melancholy music. It was sad because this was his last day as organist of the cathedral. He was being replaced by a younger musician. At dusk, somebody stepped into the cathedral. Seeing the younger man, the organist stopped playing, locked the organ and slipped the key into his pocket. He was approached by the young man, who simply said, "Please, the key."? On receiving the key, the young organist went to the organ and
began to play. While the old man had played beautifully and skilfully, the young man played with sheer genius. Music such as the world had never heard came rolling out of that beautiful old organ. This was the world's introduction to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.??The old man, with tears in his eyes, said, "Suppose -- just suppose -- I had not given the master the key!"
His inspiration to carry out his work
Leonardo da Vinci had started to work on a large canvas in his studio. For a while he worked at it -choosing the subject, planning the perspective, sketching the outline, applying the colours, with his own inimitable genius. Then suddenly he
ceased, the painting still unfinished,
and summoning one of his students, invited him to complete the work. The student protested that he was both unworthy and unable to complete the great painting, which the master had begun. But da Vinci silenced him. "Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?" - Jesus our Master began His Good News two thousand years ago -by what he said, by what he did, and supremely by what He suffered. He illustrated His message and has left us to complete the picture. This is the message of the Ascension.
John Rose in 'John's Sunday Homilies'
ILLUSTRATIONS FROM FR. TONY KADAVIL AND OTHERS:
The angel Gabriel asked, “Well, now that you are back in Heaven, who will continue your work on earth?" Jesus said, "While I was on earth, I gathered a group of people around me who believed in me and loved me. They will continue to spread the Gospel and carry on the work of the Church.” Gabriel was perplexed. "You mean Peter, who denied you thrice and all the rest who ran away when you were crucified? You mean to tell us that you left them to carry on your work? And what will you do if this plan doesn't work?" Jesus said, "I have no other plan -- it must work." Truly, Jesus has no other plan than to depend on the efforts of his followers!
4) Great commissions: