Solemnity of the Ascension

05-24-2020Gospel Meditation

What does faith and religion do for us? Ultimately, they remind us of some truths we conveniently forget: we are created by a loving God, we have imperfections, we sin, we need to be forgiven, we have a mission and a purpose, it’s not just about us, and we hunger for the joy of salvation. These are human truths that are not dependent upon whether we like them. Ignoring them places us on the paths of comfort and satisfaction as we blindly pursue the busyness and superficiality of our empty lives. Instead of pursuing supernatural and lasting pleasure, we choose things that are easier and quicker to obtain: sex, drugs, travel, houses, cars, fame, popularity, self-achievement and satisfaction, physical enjoyment, and the like.

We may also find ourselves falling victim to more negative responses to what life brings us: anger, envy, lust, pride, gluttony, greed, and apathy. Human hearts can become so hardened to the truth that violence becomes the response of first choice. Being a Christian is hard! Yet, as Pope Francis reminds us, the Church needs to be a field hospital that has to be prepared to provide people with the remedy they need. What we need is Jesus Christ. The Church, with all of the glory of the sacraments, exists to help make Christ present and real for us. Once we find Christ, we find joy. Joy is a matter of the heart that is beyond pleasure and happiness. It is not found in some earthly satisfaction, only in Christ.

Once we accept that we are destined to be in Christ, then we will discover eternal life. Namely, “that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” It is easy to conveniently forget truth and pursue illusions immediately within our grasp, but at what price? A man celebrating 60 years of marriage remarked that it took so much effort and so many attempts to convince his wife that they were meant to be together. Even his friends told him he was foolish. He easily could have given up and pursued other interests. He chose to persevere and is so grateful that he made that choice because he now has a pearl of great price. Do we see a value in persevering in our faith regardless of the cost? If we don’t take the risk, we could lose more than we know.