Ascension of the Lord
A tourist had a chance to visit the home of a holy rabbi. He was astonished to see that it was only a simple room filled with books, plus a table and a bench. He asked, “Rabbi, where is your furniture?” The rabbi replied, “Well, where is yours?” “Mine?” asked the puzzled tourist. “I’m just a visitor here. I’m only passing through.” The rabbi said, “Me too… I’m just passing through.”
It goes without saying that we are all just passing through. We are not permanent residents here. It makes no sense to have so many possessions when we are just passing through on this earth.
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. Jesus’ Ascension reminds us of our real destiny, our final destination. We are made of earth but not destined to remain on earth. Heaven is our true home, our homeland. Nothing on earth will ever finally satisfy us. No possession or property, no job or career, no business or project, no success or accomplishment, no friendship or marriage, no relationship or affair, no leisure or pleasure, no delight or thrill, no honor or title, no position or promotion, no home or neighborhood, no system or government… nothing can ever completely and finally satisfy us. Sad to say, we fool ourselves and believe otherwise.
Again, Jesus’s Ascension shows where our real destiny is. Where Jesus has gone, we hope to follow. Until then, we are only passing through, we are only renting.
If heaven is our destiny, can we honestly say that we are on the right direction right now? Tanong: Sa takbo ng buhay at pamumuhay mo ngayon, sa direksiyon na tinutunton o tinatahak mo ngayon, buong katapatan mo bang masasabi sa sarili mo na ang mga hakbang na ginawa mo ngayon ay patungo sa talagang destinasyon mo – that all this is leading you to your real destiny? Where you fix your eyes, focus your mind, pour your heart out, invest yourself, spend your time, energy, and resources is a clear indication of the destiny you are preparing yourself for.
Since we are pilgrims, only visitors of this world, then, we are not to live, behave, act and work as if we were to be permanent residents here – investing everything we are and everything we have to better our lives here, while disregarding our real destiny. Since we are only passing through on this earth, then, we are not to be so caught up and obsessed trying to have so much of this and that, as if we were going stay here on this earth forever – ignoring our deeper spiritual needs. Since the kingdom of God is our final destination, then, we are not be so consumed and so invested on building and expanding our own ‘kingdoms’ – working to death to earn more and to have more, aspiring for political power to dominate others, trying hard to win public approval and admiration. Since we are citizens of heaven, our true home, then, we are not to be overly preoccupied with worldly things – material wealth and possessions, social status and privilege, comfort and convenience, fame and vainglory, worldly entertainment and physical pleasure; rather, we are to be primarily concerned about the things of God, the things of heaven. We are to fix our eyes on our heavenly homeland. We are to be concerned about opening ourselves to God’s grace, to share in the divine life, that will bring us to our real destiny.
Today’s gospel reading helps us to realize and see the larger picture in which we live out our lives as Catholic Christians. We cannot take up the divine inheritance won for us by the risen and ascended Lord and then live for ourselves. Jesus commissions us by saying: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” Thus, we are to live our lives for God and for others. We are commissioned to make God’s family grow by proclaiming the Good News of his love.
It is ultimately not about me, not about you, not about our own plans, projects, and ambitions. It is about the delirious joy of making it possible for “every creature” to receive the Good News. The risen and ascended Lord works with us as we proclaim this outlandish love of God to others. Ultimately, this is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.