|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is graduation season for elementary schools, high schools and colleges. It is an exciting time for students as they graduate and move on to another school or into the work force. But it is also a time of a little fear and trepidation. There may even be a little bit of doubting. Will they fit in at high school? Will they have a new group of friends? Will they succeed in college? Are they ready for the world of the work space?
We call these ceremonies “graduations,” but at almost every graduation service there will be a “commencement speech,” which actually means “the beginning speech.” It is the beginning of something very new and very different. It is the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another chapter.
The same thing is true with today’s feast day of the Ascension. It is a form of a graduation. The disciples have been with Jesus for some time now. For three years, they walked with Jesus, watched him heal the sick, comfort those who were burdened, and inspire those who were downtrodden. For three years, they followed him from one town to another.
Then came a massive transition. He was hung on the cross and killed! They then went through another massive transition when they realized he was alive! He is alive and he is with us now! For 50 days, he was with them in the Resurrection. During this time, he was able to show them that there was something beyond death, but now they begin the next transition, the Ascension.
This is the exact same path that we are on now. Although we have not seen the Lord in the flesh nor have we seen the resurrected Christ, we live through the power of his Spirit.
Today we celebrate the graduation of the disciples and the commencement of a new period for them and for us. We celebrate annually as a reminder to us that we too are sent to “make disciples of all nations.” As Catholics, we are not really good at talking about Christ and God, but we are still called to bring the message of Christ to all in our lives.
We don’t have to be in somebody’s face. We can just testify how important Christ has been in our life. We are all here every Sunday. We have made a commitment. Our life is directed towards Christ in some way. Why not share that with somebody? Why not step out and talk to someone about it?
We are called to evangelize. We are called to spread the good news. Today we celebrate that Spirit and once again invite that Spirit into our hearts to come alive and to help us to tell the story of Jesus to anyone who will listen.
So this week at least aim to do one person — to talk about Jesus and our own personal conviction and gift of the Spirit in your life. Today, we come to share the gift that we receive.
End note 1 Jack Clark Robinson, OFM Franciscan Media, 28 W. Liberty Street Cincinnati Oh, 45202