Congratulations Senior Graduates!
We are fast approaching the end of the school year. This weekend our cluster is celebrating graduation weekend for our seniors. I take this opportunity to congratulate you and wish you the best. We will hold you in our prayers. Senior year is the culmination of more than a decade of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Now, it is a turning point in your life. I am sure seniors, you are full of dreams and plans for the future. Teachers, parents, family, and friends will look at you with a question: what is next? What are you going to study? What do you want to become? Some of you have already decided and some are not sure yet.
Whether you are going to college, entering the workforce, joining the military, joining the priesthood or religious life, or unsure of the next step, we are here to offer a prayer for you for encouragement, and support. We want to thank you for your faith and witness. Wherever you go, please join the faith community there. Most of the campus’s have Mass, if not there will be a Catholic church nearby. When you come home from college, please don’t forget to come to your spiritual home and celebrate faith with us. There is a community of faith waiting to see you.
This weekend we are celebrating Ascension of Our Lord. God the Father sends his son, who lived thirty years of silent life, and three years did the public ministry. Then he suffered, crucified, died, and resurrected. This Sunday we celebrate Ascension Sunday! The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives an account of the event of Ascension of the Lord. In the first part of the reading, Jesus gives instruction and the second part Ascension of our Lord. Forty days between Easter and Ascension is a period of final instruction and then Jesus ascended into heaven. The number forty signifies the time of preparation. Jesus prepared the apostles for the mission and asked them to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus himself underwent forty days of instruction before his public ministry. These forty days not only for the Apostles but for many who received the opportunity to experience personally Jesus’ Resurrection and his being alive in a glorified body. Paul writes in the first 1 Corinthians 15:6, “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
The Gospel echoes the first reading. Acts 1:9 and Mark 16:19 says, the Ascension of the Lord culminates with his heavenly enthronement at the right hand of the Father. The Ascension took place on Mount Olive. In the Acts, we read, “A cloud took him from their sight.” In the Bible, the cloud represents the divine presence. We can see references in the Book of Exodus 13:21; Isaiah 63:11; Daniel 7:13. In the Acts 7:55 Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Jesus departed from them, but at the same time, he pledged his future return. The same cloud that took him away will bring him back to retrieve the saints destined for glory (1Thessalonians 4:14-17). Daniel 7:13, tells about his vision, “I saw coming with the clouds of heaven. One like a son of man…” In the Gospel of Matthew 26:24, Jesus had told the high priest, “From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.” Christ’s kingdom began with his coming, is now present in the Church, and will reach its fulfillment when he returns in glory. Jesus entrusted the Church to the Apostles, and asked them to continue the mission with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Today, we are the church, called to continue the mission of Christ. We received the Holy Spirit at our Baptism. Through the laying of hands at Confirmation the Holy Spirit activated in a new and profound way. Let us pray the Holy Spirit renews our life in a new and profound way as we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord and prepare ourselves to celebrate Pentecost. In a special way let us pray for our seniors to embrace the Holy Spirit in their new beginnings. Let us say together in a loud voice, “Come Holy Spirit, come into our heart.”