Fr. Joeven MATUGAS,sx
I would like to share this line of the song from the famous Born Again Christian Preacher Don Moen:
“We give you glory. We give you honor. We give you everything we have lifting our hearts and hands before you Lord. There is no other reason why we came than to glorify your name and you are worthy to be praised. Now we offer up our lives as a living sacrifice holy acceptable to you.”
These lines of the song capture our feelings, our joys in giving glory to the risen Christ. We are here as people and believers to glorify his name. It is an expression in giving to Christ everything we have, our minds, hearts, and soul. Our prayer and our praise are only due to Him who is our Lord and our God.
In our liturgical celebration, we rejoice because of the great event of our Christian faith: the Resurrection of Christ. After he rose up from his death and appeared to his disciples, he went up to heaven. In his ascent to heaven, he returned back to the Father in glory. Christ brought our humanity into the Trinitarian love.
As I reflect myself on this event of the Ascension, I imagine about how I would explain this ascension of Jesus to my Catechumens who are in their advance age. These grannies and grandpas have not gone to school. How would I describe them the going up of the risen Christ to heaven, what the gospel exactly tells us? When I read the gospel in English they cannot understand. If I read the Krio gospel, they can understand small. They need the gospel to be explained in Limba. And I do not speak Limba their local language. In this case, I need the Prayer Leader to translate for me in Limba. But how would I know that what the Prayer Leader is translating is correctly what I say? However, as I have observed since I am teaching them, they are very eager and interested in learning and to listen. Despite their old age, when they hear me explaining the gospel, the commandments, and the sacraments, they all pay attention. Though, I cannot talk longer because they fall asleep quick. And they have a short memory as well. There is a difficulty in teaching them but there is also a joy and an inspiration.
Jesus ascended into heaven not to be far away from us but closer to us. His going up to heaven means his presence is not limited in time and space. He is present everywhere at anytime and all time for eternity. This is the great paschal mystery that we celebrate today in our liturgy during the mass and not only during the liturgical celebration, but also and especially in our day to day living. We are invited to experience and feel the presence of the risen Christ in our places of works, study, sports, party, mission, prayer meetings and conversation.
I would end this reflection by quoting again another line of the worship song, “Let us exalt His name forever and ever, let us come to glorify and magnify the Lord”.