While Easter is the most important Holy day of our Church's year, the Feast of the Ascension is a very important Holy day for us as well. Today's readings are full of excitement. Not only do they describe the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, but they also describe the responsibilities of all Christians and encourage our work. Without out the readings of today, we may have never heard the word of God. Today's readings remind us of our job as believers and followers of Christ. We must go out and spread the Good News to the ends of the Earth. Without today's readings could have been a branch of Judaism who believed that the Messiah had come, but with today's readings we become followers of Christ strengthened in our journey by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There are so many riches in these readings that I will just point out a few. In Ephesians 1, the Paul prays that "the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call." He is praying that we will not be sad and burdened by life, but look towards the hope of eternal life that Christ promised. In another option for today's second reading, Ephesians 4, Paul urges "you to live in a manner worthy of the calling... with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, ... through the bond of peace," Paul is encouraging us to live a life of forgivness and love. (The theme of the Easter season, remember?)
Love and forgiveness are the heart of the life on earth that Christ wanted for us all. God has given us such amazing gifts and abundant grace. We should ask for this grace when we are temped to not love, and to not forgive. He will give us the grace we need to forgive
and love, even for the biggest and hardest things to forgive and the hardest people to love. I promise. Jesus promises.
Finally, the gospel tells us that if we believe and are baptized we are saved. Too many Christians would stop there and say, "I'm baptized, I'm in!" The lines following these tell us that signs will accompany those who believe: driving out demons, speaking new languages, picking up serpents and drinking deadly things but not coming to harm, healing the sick. Wow! Have we done that? Well, have we helped someone drive out the demon of doubt, despair, sadness? Have we helped a friend? Have we been able to give someone encouraging words when we really didn't know what to say? Have we come close to a dangerous topic, person or event only to pray for the strength to make it through it and then made it through it? Then we have seen some of these signs. Perhaps we are saved. The love and forgiveness that we act on as we follow Christ will lead us to these signs and wonders. Pray for the grace to love and forgive and pray for the grace to see these signs.
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