I Count on You
Ascension (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Almost two thousand years ago, the Lord Jesus was lifted up to the Father. Today, we celebrate that event as the solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension. The Ascension is not just an event where we celebrate Jesus’ own glorification. It is also an event where we celebrate the glorification of the disciples. It is to this small band of untried, once fearful, and ordinary men and women that Jesus gave the task of proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world.

Action starter: With whom will I share the Gospel?

This is trust of a great magnitude. This reminds me of one retreat master who at the beginning of the retreat told us priests not to be worrying about our parishes. If the Lord has gone up to heaven and left his disciples to continue His work, surely we have leaders who can take care of the parish in the short time that we are out. To emphasize his point, he added that perhaps, our parishes are faring even better without us.

When we communicate to a person that we trust him and we have confidence that he will be able to do the job, then we start the process of empowering that person. He will see himself differently and will do the best he can to fulfill what is expected of him. He will dig deep into his own inner resources and even surprise himself by the discovery of his hidden strengths. Good leaders not only show the way. They also coach and inspire their followers to get there.

Some very good players eventually end up as coaches of teams. However, not all coaches were once star players. A good coach may not himself be the best player but he is able to train and inspire a player to give his best. In a parish setting, one mark of a well-run parish is that many people are involved in the different ministries, each according to her ability. As the second reading observes, “As for His gifts, to some he gave to be apostles, to others prophets, or even evangelists, or pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). In one parish I visited on a Saturday, a group of people was cleaning the church, another group was discussing the Sunday readings, some were preparing the food, others were holding healing sessions. Contrast this to another parish where the priest is a “Lone Ranger”. He prepares the sacristy, rings the bell, leads the singing while celebrating the mass, and sometimes does all the readings.

See how the Lord trusts his disciples. He gave them a grand vision, “go the whole world.” He also assured them of His presence and support. As the gospel relates, “they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs” (Mk. 16:20). The Lord was present with them in a new way, not physically, but just as real, “I am with you always until the end of this word” (Mt. 28:20).

St. Paul advises the Ephesians, “Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received” (4:1). In the context of the feast of the Ascension, we may say, live in the manner of a trusted disciple. Since we are trusted, let us be trustworthy. The Lord counts on us modern disciples and apostles to do His work of proclaiming God’s reign. We are participants in this grand enterprise. This means we become God’s ambassadors of peace, justice, truth, mercy, and love.

We are all proud of the Filipino boxer, Manny Paquiao. The President of the Philippines has appointed him ambassador of peace after his latest boxing victory. A Christian disciple is also an ambassador. Your appointment as ambassador comes from a higher source. It is Christ who appoints you. Live in a manner worthy of your call. He counts on you.