The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord into heaven is the confirmation of God’s plan for humanity. At the right hand of the Father, for all eternity, sits a human body just like the one we have. The promise is that one day all of us will share in heavenly glory.
Meanwhile, our challenge is to face our limitations. We know that we are sinners. Tendency is to get into the comparison game. (I’m not as bad as she; if people knew what I know about him, they wouldn’t even let him in the church!) There will always be someone not as good and someone who is better. A self-righteous attitude will cause us to point a finger towards others and hold ourselves blameless. If we are not repentant of the inadequacies in our life, there will be no improvement, no forgiveness.
We have the power to block forgiveness. One of the last instructions Jesus gave us was to preach repentance and forgiveness. Obviously the two realities are vital to the life of the Church. No community can survive without being able to turn the page of the mistakes that each day brings. Take for example the most important community, the domestic church—the family. If husbands and wives are not disposed to being sorry for the hurt they cause and forgive one another—the marriage will fail—or result in a living hell. Making mistakes—hurting one another is part of being imperfect. Some hurt is intentional, other hurt is by accident. We say things in anger, without thinking. We act in desperation. We tell lies to protect ourselves. But to every deception there are consequences. More important than what happens overseas, the political disagreements, the opinions we have on immigration—more important is what happens in our homes. If we refuse to be reconciled and forgive our family, there is little hope for the world. That’s why Jesus chose His final instructions carefully.
And no doubt that the small group was trembling with fear to witness the One who brought them together make an exit. We get comfortable with routine, with familiar faces, with the people who support us. We do not like change. That’s why we have trouble letting go of people who die. “Now who’s going to take care of us? How will we ever get along without him/her?” The Apostles experienced the same kind of anxiety when Jesus told them that He was leaving. They felt that they weren’t ready. We are never ready to let go of someone we love.
The proof that the Apostles survived is that we are here. We are the community of believers who are still waiting for Jesus to return. However, we don’t just wait—our vocation is to continue speaking about God’s merciful forgiveness. Countless have not heard that all they have to do is to ask. God is ready to forgive us when we are repentant. Same needs to apply to families and all relationships. When we ask pardon of each other we need to forgive. Folks say, “Remember what happened 10 years ago!” We can never undo the past. Why remember what can never be undone? Why do we hold on to stuff that poisons a relationship? As we have been forgiven, we must allow healing to happen. The enemy is pride. Pride is the voice that says that we are right and everyone else is wrong. If pride is in our soul we will refuse to let go. Jesus offers us a way out of the madness. First we need to allow His mercy to fill us, then we are free to pardon the ones who have wronged us. The joy of the Apostles has to contaminate us to the point that every day brings new hope.
Count the miracles. They are many. For starters—we have been chosen to be disciples. And we have been given a mission: Announce repentance for the forgiveness of sins.