Today, Ascension Sunday, we commemorate the end of the Lord’s public ministry in this world. “Mission accomplished,” Jesus would say. It does not mean that he is no longer with us or went into “retirement from public service.”
The Lord is still present but in his invisible form like his sacramental presence in the Holy Mass. He declared before he ascended to heaven, “Remember, I am with you always until the end of the world” (Mt 28,30).
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Our Lord’s Ascension teaches us that our final destination is not in this world but in the next life. Where he went, we will follow.
Once a devout lay minister died and off he went to the next life. There, one either goes to the top floor: heaven, where the righteous are rewarded with eternal bliss.
Those who have venial (pardonable) sins go to the second floor, purgatory, and the damned are herded to the basement, hell, where they are tormented for eternity.
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The lay minister found himself in purgatory. As he roamed about his new home, to his surprise he met his former parish priest.
“Father, I didn’t expect you to be here,” the excited parishioner exclaimed. “Why aren’t you up there?” pointing to heaven.
“Ssshhhh, quiet, Brod. I saw our corrupt congressman below us!” said the priest.
When we pass away from this world to the next life, we will make a personal accounting before the Lord.
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There’s a noteworthy insight from the “Acts of the Apostles” (first reading of the Mass). The “the two men in white,” presumably angels, tell the disciples: “Why are you looking up to heaven? Jesus who has been taken up will come back just as you have seen him go” (Acts 1,11).
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In the “interim” meantime period, the time between his Ascension and his return in the Last Judgment, we are told not to fix our concern solely on the afterlife but to establish “colonies of heaven” already here on earth.
Establishing heavenly colonies means that we must work assiduously to make God’s Kingdom on earth a kingdom characterized by justice, love, truth, and peace.
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During the peak of the Covid pandemic, some friends related to me about four women from a barangay in Mayamot, Antipolo. They were so happy to get their much-awaited social amelioration pay amounting to P6,000 each.
But here’s the sad part. When they were getting into their rides, four men suddenly jumped at them. They grabbed their cash donations including their cell phones and fled!
But here’s something beautiful. When a benevolent man came to collect his amelioration pay and saw the plight of the four women, he told the officer in-charge he was donating his own amelioration and shared it among the poor victims. He said, “It’s okay, I can take care of myself.”
When Jesus will return in the Last Judgment, he will judge us by our good or evil deeds. The good will be rewarded but the evil will be condemned to eternal damnation (Mt 25, 35ff.)
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Do you still remember the American actress Whoopi Goldberg who delighted millions of viewers in the highly-acclaimed movies “Ghost” and “Sister Act”?
Every year Goldberg co-hosts a TV program to raise funds to aid her country’s numerous homeless. Asked why she was doing her charitable projects, she said, “I fear waking up one morning and finding out that my life was for nothing. We’re here for a reason and that is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”
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Today, the Catholic Church marks the World Communication’s Day. This event is in response to Jesus’ command before his Ascension to heaven: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation” (Mk 16,15).
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Note that the Lord said “proclaim the good news.” While there’s a lot of destructive fake news and disinformation around as shown in the recent elections, the media should highlight the more inspiring news of success, compassion, peace, honesty, and human development.