May 21, 2023 – Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/052123-Ascension.cfm)
For those who are into (LDR) Long-Distance relationships, especially with migrants who have lived and worked abroad away from our families and loved ones, separation and homesickness have been a constant struggle in their daily lives. Experiences of separation and homesickness are indeed never been easy to deal and content with in our journey through life. Difficult it may be, but we also know that our day to day wrestling with separation and homesickness could also provide us opportunities for growth in meaning and values in life. Because at times, in our separation and homesickness, we 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.
At times in life, like “one cannot see the forest for the trees” we need then to detach, separate and be distant 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. As Henri Nouwen would say: “What is most close, most intimate, most present often cannot be experienced directly but only with a certain distance.” 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 mabulag makatambok pud og 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 mabulag 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 directionless, meaningless and hopeless in life.
Crucial then in our experience of separation and homesickness is the once-again & always search, giving importance and making a promise to our values, meanings and missions in life.
Today, we celebrate the 2nd Glorious Mystery, the Ascension of the Lord. Tradition has it that forty days after the risen Lord appearances before his disciples, the Lord has ascended back to Our Father, leaving behind and separated away from us His disciples. This would mean that separation and homesickness share in our life as well as in our faith, as part of our life-story and our salvation history 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) – that 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 & of losing direction, could also be the upside and opportunity to discover and claim once again what is importance 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 once again and anew finding, claiming, committing and fulfilling our life-missions.
We pray then, that like the two disciples of Emmaus, may our usual departure and distance from our loved ones and the usual Lord’s departure and distance from us, move and inspire us to 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. Amen.