Today we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven, His final event on earth, forty days after His resurrection.  In the former liturgical calendar (and in some dioceses in the U.S.) this feast was celebrated on the Thursday that falls forty days after Easter Sunday. Regardless of when it is celebrated, it is a significant event in the life of the Church. In the days leading up to this event Jesus, according to John, continually told His followers the He would only be with them a little while and then He was returning to the Father. Remember at the end of in Matthew’s Gospel we read: “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted.” while at the end of Mark’s Gospel we read: “So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by signs that attended it.  Amen.” The Holy Spirit had yet to come and there were some among the Apostles who still had doubts and there were others who believed and went forth and preached.

We should ask ourselves: Which group do I belong to, based on how I am living my life today – the doubters, or the preachers?  As we begin a new year in the Church soon (next week is Pentecost Sunday, the ‘birthday of the Church’) we should take some time to reflect on how our life, as we are living it day to day, fits into the mission of our parish: “Building a Church of missionary disciples by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and reaching the poor” Consider this time to be the ‘New Year’s Eve’ of the Church and time to make some new resolutions for the coming year.  Start by asking these questions:  Am I building the Church by my life?  Am I becoming a missionary disciple by my life?  Am I preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ by my life? Am I reaching the poor by my life?  You may have noticed our Gospel readings for most of the Eucharist liturgies since Easter have been from John and much of what we have heard are parts of Jesus’ narratives about Who He is and how He relates to the Father and who we should be by believing in Him.  Today’s reading is part of the beautiful prayer for His disciples (that includes US!) : “Father, I have manifested Your Name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world, they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word….I am praying for them….Holy Father keep them in Your name which You have given Me that they may be one, even as We are one…I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word (that’s US), that they may all be one….that they may be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”  Jesus prayed that you and I would be one with Him and would preach His word so that the world would believe that God had sent Him.  Redouble your efforts in pray and be ever-conscious of making God the center and purpose of all we do every day.  Please continue to pray for the clergy and all the members of our parish, as I do for you.  God bless!

Pastor’s Points is a bi-weekly feature about faith, family, and life, from our pastor, Father James Flynn. It is published in our parish bulletins, as well.