Admittedly, many people are experiencing sadness, anxieties and insecurities these days. Loss of employment, inability to be with loved ones who happen to be stranded in faraway places, and temporary loss of freedom, are among the reasons why even the “mighty” feel like the lowly. These restrictions are unimaginable and unheard of even four months ago. Because of the need for social distancing, mass gatherings in churches are included in the restrictions.
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 28: 16-20), the scene brings similarities to what we are experiencing today: feeling of depletion, presence of doubt, and anxieties about what the future holds:
“The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted.”
The disciples have lost one of their number when Judas betrayed his Master. But the eleven stayed on, and Jesus won’t let the loss hamper the mission that God the Father gave Him. Most of them were committed and yet as if their companionship with the Lord isn’t enough there were some who were still unsure. When your faith isn’t strong enough, you will doubt especially when you are subjected to trials. It is because, sadly, you haven’t really placed your trust in Christ.
Nobody is exempted from experiencing these feelings, especially when you have responsibilities to your family, loved ones, communities, employers, clients, and those who work for you. You are feeling helpless because even your once-mighty neighbor is also subjected to the same restrictions as you are.When we listen to TV or read the news online, it is the same atmosphere of uncertainties and dilemmas. In my own experience, what I do is to try to avoid the bad news and opinions to cloud my mornings.I select the channel I listen to and anticipate my response whenever something bad that happened is being reported in the news. I am aware that some opinion makers make mountains out of molehills so it’s better to avoid them. When news isn’t designed to make people happy, it can add to the theme of gloom and darkness. That is why, aside from selecting a trustworthy channel to deliver the news, there is also the need for us to revisit our faith and increase our devotion to Almighty God. It is time we get back to our bearings and recall our purpose in life.
The Lord made His disciples feel that even the bad that they are experiencing will have happy endings. The work and the trials are never completed while here on earth. If you recall, the past week’s Gospel readings have a continuum telling us a similar message. Slowly, patiently, and surely He is telling us that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8: 28)
Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
So, don’t get frustrated when your dreams don’t come true. Rejoice in the fact that your patience may strengthen your faith and bring you that epiphany that situations are temporal. What is more important is preparing for our permanent home. I would take that anytime without blinking an eye. After all, that is what we should all be aiming for. It is important to have that faith in God strengthened all the more when we feel that burden weighing us down.It is not the time to let go of the bonds and strings that connect us to God. If there is one thing that this crisis had taught us isthat it should be about deepening our spirituality and intimacy with the Lord.He has given us the assurance that He is in control of the situation and for us not to fear the future.
“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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
It’s not the time to sulk in self-pity and worry. Savor the moments with family and focus on those that make you happy. There are people who exist to make your life miserable but just the same, pray for them.Try it, it actually makes you more calm and at peace.You start to see those moments of challenges as moments of victory and triumph over impatience and anger.
Despite the challenges, we have to continue our mission of sharing His Good News to others. Have you not appreciated the fact that the Church hasn’t stopped doing its mission despite the restrictions for gatherings? It has made use of technology through Internet live streaming to bring us closer to the Lord. For those of us who regularly attend the online Masses and services, we are blessed because we are able to feel the Lord’s presence even while we are physically away from the Church premises. It is like that with the disciples after Christ went up into Heaven. The Ascension of the Lord is “not the end”, but a “new beginning”, says Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB. We begin to see and feel the fulfillment of the promise that the Lord is with us always and for eternity.
On this Ascension Sunday, let us spread the Good News so that others may get to re-connect themselves with God, through the online Masses and services that are abundantly available. Let us spread God’s love to others especially during these times. Let us pray for strength, for hope and for love to triumph.
“Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world.”
(Mt. 28: 19a, 20b)