Dear Ascension Family,

Blessings of peace and good health! As your pastor, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed their time, effort and resources and the simple but meaningful celebration of our parish patronal feast – the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, which started with a Triduum, three days of prayers and Mass. I thank especially all officers and members of the Parish Pastoral Council headed by Romy Quiblat for leading the way. I look forward to next year’s celebration.
To allow ourselves to be nourished by God’s word, may I invite you to reflect on the gospel reading we have for this Sunday, which has the makings of a community we all long to be – a people united by mutual love.

What do people all over the world fear most today? High on any list is the fear that after all our striving, all our great scientific and technological achievements, after all the progress we have made since the beginning of human life here on earth, we could destroy it all through nuclear war. If we are heading toward some global catastrophe, then life is without meaning. There is no reason for idealism and self-sacrifice. If that is so, then we would better grab what we can while there is still time, for tomorrow could be too late.

However, the truth is that life is not meaningless. We are traveling on Spaceship Earth not toward destruction but toward destiny. For those who accept the biblical worldview common to Jews and Christians alike, this belief in an ultimate meaning to life is connected with the truth that life’s origins were not the result of mere chance. We human beings were fashioned, the Bible tells us, by a Creator. The Bible begins with an account of creation. In images as intelligible to people then as stories about computers and satellites are to us today, the Bible portrays life’s beginnings as purposeful and planned, not the result of mere change. The entire Bible is an account of God’s attempt to maintain a loving relationship with the men and women he had made.

The gospel reading this Sunday is Jesus’ prayer to his Father which reveals the innermost concerns of his heart. He is not praying solely for his disciples who were with him at the Last Supper. He also prays “for those who believe in me through their word,” that is, for all Christians of the generations to come. Jesus’ prayer is not dated. He was praying for you and me as well.

But what was Jesus praying for his disciples, those who believe in him, then and now? His plea is: “That all may be one.” Jesus wanted his disciples, he wanted us, to be one. But what did Jesus mean by oneness or unity? Definitely, unity is not the same thing as uniformity. Jesus’ choice of followers was sufficiently diverse in temperament, personality, and social status which suggests that he found diversity a healthy, life-giving force. True unity cannot be achieved in a community which denies difference. Unity is achieved when each member is different and contributes a different gift, but all are united around the same goal by mutual love. We must open ourselves to others and welcome their gifts.

The model for unity that must exist among Christians is the unity that exists between God the Father and God the Son. Jesus prays, “As you, Father, are in me and I in you.” The Father and the Son remain different, because the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. But they are perfectly united. What unites them is the love that they have for each other. Similarly, the unity between all Christians involves all that Jesus has said about love, summed up in one immortal commandment, “Love one another as I love you”(John 15:12). Can there possibly be any greater, more intimate unity on earth than the unity that would be here if all Christians were to love all others with the type of love Jesus lived from the crib in Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary?

This unity is not something we human beings, you and I, can produce by ourselves. The fact that Jesus prays to the Father for this unity, as well as the fact that our unity is to resemble the unity that exists between God the Father and God the Son, tells us that such unity comes from God, is a gift of God. As Jesus prayed, so we must.

This unity has to be visible, expressed in deeds, in action. Otherwise it could not do what Jesus wants it to do, which is to challenge the world to believe in Jesus: “. . . that the world may know that you [the Father] sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” The unity of all believers would convince the non-believers that Jesus Christ was indeed sent by God, so that they too would become believers. In other words, the unity of Christians has the witness value of drawing the world to believe in Jesus.

What did Jesus ask his Father for his disciples? A community of love, where out love for others mirrors the love of Jesus for us, where the deep love within us is shown indeed, by the way we live for one another. Such is the unity Jesus wanted for all his disciples.

Praying for you all,
Fr. Anacleto