Ascension of The Lord and Communication Day 2020
In addition to the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we also acknowledge World Communications Day and the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.
The Ascension of the Lord commemorates the fortieth day after Easter Sunday. It celebrates the completion of God’s work of human salvation (which started with Good Friday), Christ’s entry into heaven, and the promise that we will share in eternal life with God.
Benedict XVI speaks about this feast: The meaning of Christ’s Ascension expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and unheard of way. It means that we have found an everlasting place in God. We believe that we will share in God’s heavenly gifts after our death.
But, what does it mean in our day-to-day life to say that we hope to enter into the inner life of God? Let me offer three ways in which we can live our lives as if we share in the inner life of God here on earth. A practice for heaven!
Quite simply, we share in the inner life of God in our daily lives by having a relationship with God. That means we pray. It does not matter how we pray. The most sensible form of prayer is whatever works for us at a particular point in our life journey.
What works for you at this time of COVID-19? I find that my prayer is simple these days, basically trying to stay at peace as I deal with a wide range of emotions. My life could resemble a roller coaster if I am without that peace. What do you most need from prayer these days?
Secondly, we manifest our sharing in God’s life whenever we actually live our lives from a conviction that Christ is with us in an ongoing way. Do we really believe Jesus when he says, I am with you always, to the end of the age? We can only answer that by looking at our lives with a discerning eye about how we live.
That discerning eye is a form of contemplation. That has been termed a long, loving look at the real. To share in God’s life is to truly believe that Christ is with me always, whatever is happening in my life, even if in the midst of the present global reality of a pandemic and the ways it is turning life upside down.
Can I take that loving look at my own life story, at the story of someone else, at my family secrets, at a tragedy in the world? To share in God’s inner life is to be aware of the sacredness of our lives and our daily activities and responsibilities, even when they are not easy.
Finally, once we have a relationship with God and take that long, loving look at everyone and everything around us, we are motivated to action. We desire that others share in that sense of God’s inner life. Jesus told his followers, You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.
There are many ways to witness to Christ. Let me mention just one.
Today, as for 54 years on the Feast of the Ascension, the Church celebrates World Communication Day. Pope Francis released a statement for the day. He uses a verse from Exodus as a starting point:“That you may tell your children and grandchildren. His theme is Life becomes history.
He devotes this year’s message to storytelling, specifically, good stories. He speaks of stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together.
Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us. A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze. A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.
That is quite important at a time such as this one we are living through in 2020, a year destined to be written about a lot. The message from Francis is very good. He focuses on weaving stories, the reality of deceptive stories, the importance of Sacred Scripture, an ever-renewed story in each human life, and the ways in which our personal story is a part of salvation history.
Like all things from the pen of Francis, it is readable and related to the dynamics of our lives. It is also very much along the lines of the Benedict XVI quote I offered earlier. http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/communications/documents/papa-francesco_20200124_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali.html
As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, let us take steps now to experience the inner life of God, knowing that we will share later in an everlasting way. Let us also discover the ways in which our stories have so much to offer us.