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The Graduates of the Ascension

     Last June, I graduated high school and began university. After journeying through four years of high school and experiencing a lot of fun times and late nights working on projects and studying I was finally completed. Graduating was an end and a new beginning. It was a time when I said goodbye to the life I've live the past four years and said hello to the new form of life coming next. As I graduated I felt, as most graduates do, that I was ready to take on the world. That I was equipped to face the challenges that laid ahead of me in this new stage of life. The ceremonies only encouraged this ideology. We were the champions and after these four years of learning, we were ready for university; we were ready to be an adult, we were ready for a new form of life.  One year later, and I can (already) testify that this isn't fully the case.

Photo from my Grad

     Today we celebrate the feast of the ascension of Christ. This is the day when Christs earthly mission has been fulfilled and he now in trusts the future of his mission to his disciples. Not on our own however, but he will send the Paraclete to be with us and to guide us. The mission he started he would not abandon. Since his saving work on earth as been accomplished, he needed to go now so that the Paraclete could be sent into the world, and the mission moves forward.

    As we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of Christ, we see how the disciples have graduated in their own way. They spent the last three years following and learning from their personal experience with Christ. After spending these emotional and challenging times with Christ, they now depart from the life they knew, the personal daily encounter with Christ in his human form, and now experience him in the Spirit. The Ascension of Christ is an end, but, even more so than graduating, is a beginning. It marks the new stage of the disciples life; the new role that they will take on.

    We hear in the First reading, Lukes account of the ascension in the Acts of the Apostles. He ends his first writing with the Ascension and begins his second with it.  Obviously, for Luke, this event in Christs life, and in the life of the church, is crucial. It marks an end and a beginning.  The disciples are on the mountain with Christ, the place that is commonly seen as the connecting point between the divine and human. Christ ascends into heaven and the disciples are starring up and beholding this heavenly event.  When suddenly two angels come down from heaven and ask, " Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?"

Image result for ascension of jesus
    Todays Gospel allows us to see why the angels are asking such things. In the finals lines of the Gospel of Matthew, which is today's Gospel, Jesus is saying to his disciples, " Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you." Jesus is commissioning them their new mission. They are to GO, get out, make disciples. They are no longer to be people who are stationary in one area, but who GO out into the world.

    This is really at the heart of the feast of the Ascension- to GO out. Our lives and situations have changed. One phase has ended and another, abundant new phase has begun. We are people of the Resurrection, we are people who are instructed to GO out into the world and make disciples of the entire earth.  We are the people who are equipped with all that has been taught by Christ and infused with his Holy Spirit, to go out at make disciples. We are the partakers, as Catholics, of this new phase to GO out and proclaim the good news.

    This world needs this message more than ever. It is a message of unity, peace and love. A message that transcends all human boundaries and ideologies. It is a message of beauty and freedom, of joy and action, of prayer and communication. This message is communicated by the simplicity of our actions that are infused with genuine love and concern for others.

   As I have come to realize that the four years of high school did not prepare me fully for the fundamental change and challenges that have come and will come a head, the apostles were different. They must have felt frightened when they graduated ( as most graduated do immediately after the special day) but they received the Holy spirit. Which guided them and helped them carry out their new role. The Paraclete was sent to help these new grads to GO out and become witnesses for Christ in all the world.

    How are you GOING out into the world? How are you living the Ascension?

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