Headline: THE ASCENSION AND ENDURING PEACEPosted on: 2016-04-28
2000 years on
The ascension of Jesus into heaven, forty days after his resurrection, is a landmark event in the life of the Church. Jesus had told his disciples that he shall ascend to his father. "...I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to me, so that where I am you also may be" (Jn. 14:2-4). At the ascension he made good his word. However before ascending into heaven Jesus mandated his followers to make the entire world his disciples. He also gave the twelve the power to forgive sins (Jn. 20:21-23). Then he specifically mentioned the special gift of peace which he was giving to his disciples. The Church over the years has that action so seriously that the exchange of the peace of Christ has become part of every Mass celebrated all over the world till this day. That his disciples should live in peace was a major concern for Jesus. Today, the unfortunate fact is that well over 200 years after his ascension, true peace is still a mirage not only among peoples of different faiths and confessions all over the world but even among the followers of the Prince of peace. Ascension is a good time to reflect on our attitude to that mandate, our role in the current situation and the possibility of realizing the will of Jesus Christ.
The Einstein in all of us
Most people in the world recognize that Albert Einstein, the German physicist and inventor of the theory of relativity, was a genius. In our day geniuses do not appear every day for it normally means that they are a rare breed, head and shoulders above the average man on the streets. Further proof of Einstein's quality is the quote ascribed to him once saying: "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid". That quote, given its source, deserves to be taken seriously. Perhaps more importantly, it reminds us that God did not create us all equal but that all human beings at creation have a purpose. We all have something that we can do better than most people. The challenge is for every one of us to discover that one thing.
Here I am Lord
One very important question asked of catechumens at catechism is precisely along these lines. Why did God create you? God created us to love him to know him and to serve him and by this means to attain eternal happiness. Anyone who is able answer that question correctly and try to live out his answer is more likely than anyone else to find his genius. "The famous Catholic writer, Matthew Kelly, in many of his books declares that everyone made by God is called to become the best version of whom we are made to be. This and Einstein's idea belong much in the same line. As God's call to every human being is permanent, each of us must tend towards God in order to discover the genius in us. The ideal song of David's sums it all up in reality: "Like the deer that yearns for running streams so my soul is yearning for you my God".
The ingredients of peace
Jesus' enduring project of peace is therefore a task that must be done because the country is undoubtedly in deficit of peace. There is abundant chaos in every department of Nigerian life today from the political to the social and the spiritual. Politicians are at war among themselves and with the people, chaos abounds in the educational and health sectors while the religious front is not lacking in turbulence. It will always be true that there can be no peace without justice and justice in human society goes hand in hand with the rule of law, operated by human beings who are committed to it. The worsening situation of Nigeria today is clearly an embarrassment to all Christians, even more than Muslims and others. It is an indictment of everyone who is in the position to do anything positive for peace and the common good.
The hard road to Travel
The crunch therefore, is that there is so much work for everyone in the event of the ascension. At that first event of Jesus' ascension, the angel said to the disciples: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen him go there" (Acts 1:11). Those words challenge us all today to exercise our privilege to work as agents of the peace of Christ. Let the cleaner do his cleaning as if his life depends on it, the politician play politics like heaven is imminent, the security agent serve as if he lives for nothing else, the businessman trade like the world would end without his effort and everyone else perform his duty like all depended on it. Only then we can claim to be subjects of the ascension, working for the peace bestowed by him who ascended into heaven.
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