ACTS 1: 1-11;            EPHESIANS 1: 17-23;          MATTHEW 28: 16-20

A middle aged woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she had a near death experience. Seeing God she asked “Is my time up?” God answered, “No, you have another 40 years, 2 months and 8 days to live.” Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a facelift, liposuction, and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair color. Since she had so much more time to live, she thought she might as well make the most of it. After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was hit by a car and died immediately. Arriving in front of God, she demanded, “I thought you said I had another 40 years, why didn’t you pull me from out of the path of the car?” God replied, “I didn’t recognize you.”

A high-school graduate was asked: At the end of school what do you want to do? I want to do my Senior Certificate. After your Senior Certificate what do you want to do? I want to go to college. After college what do you want to do? I want to get a job. Then what do you want to do? I want to make big money. What do you want to do after making money?  I want to build a big house. After that what do you intend to do? I want to get married. What will you do after getting married? I will have a family. What will you do after having a family? I will retire. What do you want to do after you retire? I want to take a rest. What will you do after taking a rest? I don’t know. Will you die? Oh yes, I will die too.

We are so busy doing things, achieving, making progress that we can forget what life is all about, preparing to meet God in heaven. The Ascension of Jesus reminds us that during our lives we are “only passing through” on this earth, as we say. We are pilgrims on a journey. Just as Jesus’ earthly life was temporary, and he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, so also our lives here are temporary, will come to an end, and we will meet God in the next life. The Ascension of Jesus reminds us in all of our busyness not to forget what life is all about. Remember that conversation with a student. What will you do next? The student had an answer for everything but never thought about dying and what would happen then. Part of the prayer in the letter to the Ephesians, the second reading today, is so beautiful.

“May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe” (Eph 1:17-19)

It is a most beautiful prayer and description of living life preparing for eternal life. The Ascension of Jesus reminds us that God has great plans for us that are out of this world and that prayer in the second reading also reminds us that God has great plans for us that are out of this world.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives his mission to all the believers: “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” This mission is not given to a select few but to all believers. To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. “We preach with words but we proclaim with our lives.” As we celebrate the Lord’s return to His Father in heaven – His Ascension – we are being commissioned to go forth and proclaim the Gospel of life and love, of hope and peace, by the witness of our lives. On this day of hope, encouragement and commissioning, let us renew our commitment to be true disciples everywhere we go, beginning with our family and our parish, “living in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received.”This is another way in which you live the prayer of the second reading seeing what hope his call holds for you.

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)