Ascension of the Lord, Year B – 18
Acts.1:1-11 / Eph.1:17-23 / Mk.16:15-20
Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers. Years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went.
He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother in the house was looking out the window saw the two as they got closer and closer together.
In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him.
From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. There began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go.
A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator.
Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.
The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms.
I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go.” Mothers may not know it, but they are often responsible for the faith development of their children more than many preachers put together.
The meaning of an old Jewish proverb that says, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” Today we acknowledge it and we say, “God bless you Mothers.”
Now let us go to the Ascension of the Lord. It is an important feast day because it points to one important aspect of our faith – Jesus has gone up to heaven to prepare a place for us so that where He is we too shall be.
At His Resurrection, He conquered sin and death and raised us to life. In the Ascension, this life takes on a clearer and more profound aspect- eternal life in heaven with Jesus.
That should make us set our hearts on things of above and not of things of earth. But does that mean that we don’t bother about anything and do nothing about our life here on earth?
Of course, it is needless to answer that question. But at the same time, we also need to understand that our life on earth is a preparation for the eternal life of heaven.
So, what must we do on earth then? What Jesus said to the Eleven, He also says to us: Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation.
Jesus also gave a list of signs that will be associated with believers: they will cast out devils, have the gift of tongues, pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.
All that seems rather lofty and maybe even unbelievable. Can we do all that? Have we done all that?
But before we discourage ourselves with a barrage of “No” to what Jesus said, we need to find out what is the sign that Jesus wants us to be.
And this is where we need to go back to the 1st reading when Jesus also said that we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us, and then we will be witnesses reaching out to the ends of the earth.
So as Jesus ascends into heaven, He wants us to prepare the descent of the Holy Spirit, who will empower us to be witnesses and to be signs.
So as much as we set our hearts to the things of above, may we also be witnesses and signs to the people of the earth.
We must be living signs to point them to heaven. Because that’s where we are going, and we want them to go along with us.
At the end let us reflect these words on witnessing coming from John White. He said: “A good witness isn’t like a salesman the emphasis is on a person rather than a product. A good witness is like a signpost.
It doesn’t matter whether it is old, young, pretty, ugly; it has to point the right direction and be able to be understood. We are witnesses to Christ, we point to him.” This is witness. This is transforming. This is what God wants us to do.
We need to be proclaimers and evangelizers: 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.
Let us ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Jesus by our transparent Christian lives.
Be Blessed and be a Blessing. Amen.