A Reflection for The Ascension of Christ
And the Seventh Sunday of Easter 2017

May 28, 2017
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFM
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/Franciscans of Mercy
Based on Acts 1:1 - 11, Acts 1:12-14, Psalm 27, 1 Peter 4, Ephesians 1:17-23, M Matthew 28:16 - 20, John 17:1-11
This past Thursday we celebrated Christ’s Ascension to The Father let us reflect on the readings for that feast day and what they mean to us. In
the Gospel reading, Matthew 28:16 - 20, we are directed to “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; Baptize them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.” And this seventh Sunday of Easter we are
advised to be proud of being a follower of Jesus the Christ. How do we do that? How do we make disciples of all we meet?  We do it by living our
lives every day as Christ gave us and example and directed us in His Sermon on the Mount or as we know them by, The Beatitudes.
That means we need to be aware of the needs of other, show compassion to those who are sick, poor, hungry, homeless and marginalized.
Christ also promises us that He is with us always. “Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”
Paul’s letter the to Ephesians could very well be addressed to us today for in it He is giving a blessing that asks God to sustain us and Paul also
reinforces the reality that Christ was indeed the Son of God and the chosen one promised to rule the heavens and the earth.
“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full
knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has
promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of
his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every
Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put
all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the
whole creation.”  (Ephesians 1:17 - 23)
The first reading from The Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11 relates how Jesus returned from dead and revealed himself to the Apostles and promised
that they would receive the Holy Spirit to guide them and lead them.  “In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and
I taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to
heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and
tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the
Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John Baptized with water but you, not many days from now, will be
Baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Every person who is baptized is done with not only water but also The Holy Spirit.
Next Sunday we will celebrate that day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the miracle that occurred of their being heard in
the language of people from many nations who did not speak the languages of the Apostles, attending their teachings.
The readings today are very powerful and affirming as they instruct us to be proud of being a follower of Christ, A Christian, and infer that when
we are punished or ridiculed by others for proclaiming our faith and living out our faith as Jesus instructed, we should realize how much Christ
loves us because He allows us to share in His suffering.
“If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is
a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting
on you. None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone of you should suffer for
being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.” (1 Peter 4:13 - 16)
Being called a Christian is not an insult, or something to be ashamed of, it is a heavenly honor bestowed upon us by Almighty God and His
beloved son, Jesus Christ.
Let us face it, in today’s society many people claim to be Christians, but when you look closely, their actions are diametrically opposite the
teachings of Christ.  Many discriminate and reject God’s children for reasons that are selfish or based on ignorance. People are refused
participation in the worship of God because of their race, nationality, or sexual orientation or divorce.  Children are refused Baptism because their
parent is a single parent.  This is not what Jesus taught.
If we are ashamed to live and act as Christ taught us and showed us by His actions, then we should not claim we are Christian.
If we do not have compassion for the sick, aged, homeless, and poor and reach out to help them, then we cannot claim to be a follower of Christ.
If we do not support and assist in the work of those who try to live the teachings of Christ by giving back some of the gifts God has provided us,
we can not claim to be living out the message of Christ.
Being proud to be a Christian means we are not ashamed to say a prayer of thanksgiving to God before eating a meal;, even when that is in a
public place.
Being proud and living out a Christian life means to be active in the ministry of Christ and worshiping God by prayer, receiving the Gift of Christ’s
body and blood in the Eucharist, and speaking out against injustice when ever we encounter it.
The Gospel reading from John 17:1 - 21 is the prayer Christ said in the Garden just before being betrayed and handed over to fulfill the plan of our
“Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power
over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.   Moreover, eternal life is this: to know
you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.   …..  I have made your name known to the men you took from the world to give
me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.   Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed
from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it
was you who sent me.   I pray for them; I am praying for those you have given me, because they belong to you: all I have is yours and all you
have is mine, and in them I am glorified… Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.’  While I
was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. ….. I have given them your word and the world has hated them,
for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.   My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from
the evil one…  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth… I have sent them into the world… While I was with them, I protected them and kept
them safe by that name you gave me. …..I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I
am of the world.   My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.   They are not of the world,
even as I am not of it.   Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.   As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.   For them I
sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
This prayer ends with Christ asking God, His Father, to protect from the Evil one all who accept to live as Christians and commissioning us to go
out into the world and proclaim God’s will by word and deed.
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.   Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.   As you sent me into the world, I have sent them
into the world.   For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
Christ not only gave us The Truth, but He was the Light that showed us the way to the Father and that was is to live out our lives in the same way
Christ, St. Francis and Mother Teresa of Calcutta and all those who speak out against injustice, poverty, homelessness, and discrimination have
before us.
Being proud of your Christianity is to live your life every day by being Christ centered in prayer, word, action and doing it without fear of being
ridiculed for it.        
Christ came to teach us the Truth and to give us the guidelines of how to live our life so that we would be pleasing to Almighty God and to
distinguish the difference between God’s way and the man made rules that have nothing to do with gaining everlasting life.
When asked, Christ summed up all the Commandments or Rules with two very clear and simple ones. “Love the Lord, Your God, with your whole
mind, body, and soul and love your neighbor as you love yourself” On another occasion Christ told us “Love one another as I have loved you”.
Christ loved us so much that He was willing to give His earthly life up so that we could have everlasting life and our sins could be forgiven.
Christ welcomed every one who came to Him.  Christ made no distinction between race, gender or nationality.  Christ was compassionate and
taught us to be mindful of the needs of others.
Christ rebuked the hierarchy of the Jewish faith for their greed and their man made rules that often prevented people from offering God worship
just as many church leaders do today.
Jesus told us "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:5-7)
Let us go forth reflecting on how well we are following the teachings of Christ in our daily lives.  Are we being mindful of the needs of other?  Are
we speaking out against injustice?  Do pray and take advantage of the Gift of The Eucharist?  Do we reject discrimination because of race, Social
status, nationality, sexual orientation, age, employment and other conditions that marginalize people and cause pain and suffering?
Christ’s way and being a true Christian is living our life in a way that often is in contrast to today’s society.  
Christ left us with a legacy of living our life to please God so that we could claim the place prepared for us with the Father, let’s not forfeit that by
rejecting His way but claim it by living as He taught us without shame, openly and proudly.        AMEN