May 24, 2020 – Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Click here for the readings (http://cms.usccb.org/bible/readings/052420-ascension.cfm)
As the world we lived in these days is getting limited, sick and quarantined, we should not forget that what we are going through now is but particularly a constant daily struggle of migrants living and working abroad even before our COVID19 pandemic world today.
For migrants living and working abroad away from our families and loved ones, separation, distancing, isolation and above all homesickness have been a usual constant struggle in their day to day lives. With or without COVID19 pandemic, migrant or resident we might be, nevertheless our experiences of distancing and homesickness (of not being at home, or of being away from home) are indeed never been easy to deal and content with in our journey through life.
Difficult as it may be, but we also know that our day to day wrestling with separation and distancing could also provide us opportunities for growth in meaning and values in life. Because during these life-moments, we can and may become more in touch and conscious of who are most important people in our own life, and what, why and how are they valuable in one’s life.
Separation and homesickness could be a chance for us to discover, claim and commit once again to what is important and essential in our own lives.
Since, like “one cannot see the forest for the trees” at times, we need to detach, separate and be distant (even worse, be deprived or quarantined) from our attachments in order to see and discover once again for ourselves the values, principles and meanings that are most dear to us now and in effect inspire us to move on forward with life. In other words, separation and homesickness can move us to be more appreciative, responsible and hopeful in life. Thus, “Absence makes the heart grows fonder”. Ang mawalay nakakabusog rin ng puso. Ang mahibulag makatambok pud sa kasingkasing. This can be the UPSIDE of life-separation and homesickness.
However, the DOWNSIDE of separation and homesickness is “Out of sight, out of mind”. Ang mawalay nakakawala ng landas at nakakasira ng ulo rin. Ang mahibulag makasaag ug makabuang pud. If you don’t see, you don’t mind, and you even don’t care. Separation and homesickness can also render us lost, directionless, meaningless and hopeless in life.
What is crucial then in our experience of isolation, distancing and homesickness is the once-again longing search, giving importance and making a promise again & anew to our values and missions in life.
Today, we celebrate the 2nd Glorious Mystery, the Ascension of the Lord. Tradition has it that forty days after His appearances before his disciples, the Lord has ascended back to Our Father, leaving behind and separated away from us His disciples. This reminds us that the mystery of God’s glory is made known to us through Jesus’ departure from our lives. This would mean then that in our life and faith, our homesickness and separation share a part in the story of our normal life and salvation as well. Like the experience of the two disciples in Emmaus where the Lord appeared to them and then disappeared when they recognized Him, salvation also requires the Lord’s resurrection and departure (His coming and going into our own lives).
Part and parcel of our faith and life story is the paradox of homecoming and separation, of the hellos and goodbyes. And during moments of departure and distance, separation and homesickness – though with a downside of pain, anguish, and lost, there could also be the upside and opportunity to discover and claim once again what is important and valuable in our life as well as what is our mission in life now, that is, our life-values and life-missions.
Our readings remind us that in the Lord’s ascension, the Lord empowered and gave his disciples the task and mission to be His witnesses in the world, saying “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them” with the assurance “I am with you always forever.”
This explains why the Lord’s ascension is more than just about the Lord’s departure, separation and disappearances but more so about ourselves Christians, once again and anew finding, claiming, committing and fulfilling our life-missions. In a way, the Lord’s Ascension is the day when the Jesus started to WORK FROM HOME… so also that we could do and fulfill, here and now OUR Work, Mission and responsibility in this life.
The Lord’s Ascension teaches us also a lot about Jesus Christ himself and us, being Christian. Like our risen Lord himself, we Christian, as Easter followers of the risen Lord, are both Migrant and Missionary in our faith and life. As migrant, we are now IN this life but we are not OF this life for we are OF God’s home and life.
Ours now is not our Home, we are just but transient passersby – coming and going, on our way back to our Home with our Father. However, while still here, as missionary, we are on-mission. We have a special task to fulfill in life here and now. And through the Lord’s seeming departure and absence, and perhaps through periodic sickness and pandemic, at times we need to be detached, isolated, distanced, homesicked, and even deprived and quarantined in order to be reminded of our true identity and mission in this life now, and to more directed and committing in fulfilling our life-missions in our daily lives.
Like the two disciples of Emmaus, we pray then that may our difficult experiences of distancing, detachment and deprivation in life now, and the usual Lord’s disappearance, distance and seeming absence from us, move and inspire us to recognize and go on discovering and upholding our values, principles, and meanings in life, as well as fondly reclaim and actively fulfill our hopes and missions in life, and above be assured that whatever happens, He will be with us always and evermore until the end of ages. Amen.
(By: Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay CSsR, a Filipino Redemptorist Missionary stationed in Gwangju South Korea, though now still stranded in Cebu until further notice for available flights.)