My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
So today is Mother’s Day, so we congratulate all mothers, especially all of you that are here today.
It is a beautiful day for us to remember and to thank God for mothers and their great love for us.
And I want to thank you mothers that are here today personally. The love you have for your children is a special kind of love. It is a divine love. Because in the way you love, you show them — and you show the rest of us — the love of God. You show us the way that God our Father loves each one of us.
So thank you for your vocation and for your love and dedication for your children. And on this special day for you, I pray that you will always stay close to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family. I pray that you will always be the heart and soul of your families — a model of love and prayer and cheerfulness. And I pray that with God’s grace you will make your own families “holy families.”
Besides praying for you today, as we do every year, we have a little gift for all of you after prayers of the faithful. I shouldn’t say what time because it was a surprise, I guess. But it’s just a little manifestation of our love for each one of you and for the, as I said, the gift of motherhood in the world and in the Church.
It’s also a special day in the Church’s liturgical year. Today, we celebrate a great mystery in the life of Jesus — the mystery of his Ascension into heaven.
The Ascension is a great mystery of our Christian hope! Because Jesus has been raised to heaven and that means we can live now every day with the hope that we will rise to heaven also.
Both our first reading and the passage of the Gospel of today’s Mass describe the scene of his Ascension for us.
We hear how Jesus was teaching his apostles for 40 days after his Resurrection and how he led his disciples out on the road to Bethany. Then he raised his hands and blessed them. And then, as they were all watching, Jesus was lifted up and taken to heaven in a cloud.
We can imagine how the apostles must have been feeling. In a sense, we can feel their sadness and confusion. Probably they were asking themselves, why is he leaving. We were having a great time. 40 days with Jesus, wow! They loved Jesus very much and they must have been wondering what they are going to do without him, how they were going to get along.
Then the angels appear, and the angels tell them that Jesus will come again from the heavens. That’s why our Gospel ends with Peter and the other apostles returning to Jerusalem with great joy.
I like to think of three things that happened on the feast of the Ascension and that’s what I’m talking about today. First the fact that Jesus is leaving and at the same time he’s staying with us. Only God can do that. Then the second thing is our Apostolic Mission, the apostles were sent to preach the Gospel. And finally, Jesus’ promised them the coming of the Holy Spirit.
So from the first thing, they knew, they realized that moment that he was leaving. But then the angels say, don’t worry about it. He’s going to be with you when he comes back at the end of time.
So that’s why today we are also celebrating —with great joy — the last moments when Jesus Christ was on earth.
We hear in our second reading from Sacred Scripture. St. Paul telling us that Jesus has called all of us to the riches of glory in his inheritance.
My brothers and sisters, our inheritance is heaven. We are called to go to heaven. To be in heaven forever with God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the hope that belongs to his calling. It is such a beautiful calling to be Catholics, to be Christians. To be children of God and followers of Jesus Christ.
Because our call is to follow Jesus — to follow him on earth so that we can find the way to heaven.
You should never forget that. Because then we would never understand that sometimes our life is challenging. Whatever we think, whatever is happening here is just the way to go to heaven, where there is total and absolute happiness forever. That anything that happens to us here on earth it becomes a means to go to heaven.
Then at the same time, today we celebrate our Apostolic Mission. It’s a mission for us. It’s calling us to follow him here on earth. To be his witnesses, as his apostles were and are. Remember the last words that Jesus spoke to his apostles on earth: Go and preach the Gospel. And he also told them: You will be my witnesses.
My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is sending us in the same way that he sent his apostles. He sends each one of us into the world to continue his mission.
So we have a big job. To preach the Gospel. And Jesus is expecting each of us to do our part. To have a real concern for the salvation of our brothers and sisters — just as Jesus does.
He’s asking us to help our brothers and sisters to discover the presence of God in their lives. That they are also called to follow Jesus. And that they are also called to go to heaven. It’s a beautiful mission. To help others that they can come to know Jesus and to follow him to heaven.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, let us keep following Jesus. Let us keep serving him. Let us pray for that grace that we have a strong missionary spirit. That we will have the courage to be Jesus’ witnesses in a world that is sometimes moving away from God’s presence and God’s love, unfortunately. But we have the words and the call to be his witnesses and to be Jesus who is present to all our brothers and sisters here on earth.
And finally, as we just heard, after the Ascension, the apostles returned Jerusalem with great joy. And they were continuing in the Temple, praising God. And they were waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. According to Jesus’ promise: I’m sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. Until you receive the Holy Spirit. And that happened, as we all know, on Pentecost Day, that we are celebrating a week from today.
So this time, especially this week, is a wonderful time to take and reflect and increase our devotion to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always acting in the life of the Church. It is acting in our souls. He’s the one who sanctifies us. He’s the one inspiring us and letting us know what is it that we need to do in order to be witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So let us try to specially listen to the Holy Spirit this week.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Beautiful resolution for this week: to find a way to listen to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, in our souls.
And may the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of the Angels, help us to love with all our hearts to follow her Son so that we can be lifted up with him to heaven. And be witnesses of his Resurrection in the 21st century.
1. Readings (Feast of the Ascension, Year C): Acts 1:1-11; Ps. 47:2-3, 6-9; Eph. 1:17-23; Luke 24:46-53.