Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Ascension ...

 I once heard someone describe the story of God as a three-chapter book. 

Chapter one of the book is God the Father revealing Himself to the Jewish people. The second chapter of the book is where God reveals himself in human form. In a way that we can identify with him. It is the story of Jesus. The final scene in that second chapter is the story of when Jesus ascended into heaven; it’s the end of Jesus’ mission on earth. The very last action of Jesus, before he ascended, was to ask his followers to go and tell his story. He said: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel – proclaim my story – to every creature.”

Chapter three of the story of God is about his followers doing that. God's plan was to reveal himself to the world, through the people of God, through you and me. The third chapter of the story of God is our story. Like Peter, James, John, and the other disciples, we are being asked to go tell the people in our lives about Jesus. And then those who we tell are asked to tell others, and so on. The story of Jesus has spread – person to person – as He said it would. The goal is for the entire earth to know his story, and we are getting close to that now.

This church Jesus left behind to tell his story has been wildly successful. The church he founded 2000 years ago with a hand full of followers, in some ways, is stronger than ever. There are about 2.5 billion Christians in the world right now, by 2050 it’s projected there will be 3 billion. The most extensive growth is in Africa and South American. China's Christian population is also growing. When I was born, there were about 450 thousand Catholics globally. Now, there are 1.2 billion.  75% of adults in the United States identified themselves as Christians. So don’t believe everything you hear about the demise of the church. The story of God is far from over. Chapter three of the story is still being written; and, we are called to play a starring role.  As we wait for God's Kingdom to come when Christ returns, our call is to tell His story.   

Something incredible happened at the Ascension. St. Augustine describes what happened beautifully when he wrote: “You ascended from before our eyes, and we turned back grieving, only to find you in our hearts."  

An English Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins once said: “Christ plays in ten thousand places lovely in eyes and lovely in limbs not his” 

Saint Catherine of Sienna said: "Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

It is our time to open our hearts and be Christ’s messengers to the world. God could have had just two chapters. He could have done the whole thing himself, but he didn’t. He chose to pass on his mission to us. God chose us to write Chapter 3 with the help of the Holy Spirit. He sends us the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the sacraments. 

This is the time of year when many of our beautiful children receive their first communion.  I compliment their moms and dads for passing the torch to the next generation; that is exactly what we are called to do!  Our call is to share our faith with our families and friends. The reality is - if you do not have a plan to get your family to heaven, the chances are they will never get there! And the very best way to teach your friends and family how to become a child of God is to be a child of God yourself. 

That is our call to know God, to love God, and to tell God's story ... to write our chapter in his book.

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