Grace in defeat, generosity in victory

by | May 28, 2014 | Formation, Reflections

Vincent EucharistThe Ascension of the Lord (A), June 1, 2014 – Acts 1, 1-11; Eph 1, 17-23; Mt 28, 16-20

The riches of glory in his inheritance (Eph 1, 18)

Jesus has lived doing good. Now that his hour is at hand, he makes it clear that his reason for passing from this world to the Father matches his reason for living. The disciples will be where the Master is if they walk on the path of self-emptying liberality.

Jesus dies just as he has lived, that is to say, loving effectively. He hands over the spirit, revealing the breadth, length, height and depth of his love. He loves with the strength of his arms extended on the cross and of his hands and feet nailed to it, and with the sweat, mixed with blood, of his brows. Lifted up, he becomes known as the only begotten of the one whose name is “I am.” Hence, he does nothing on his own, but says only what the Father teaches him. By the same token, he is given all heavenly and earthly power.

It is, moreover, better for us that Jesus goes. His departure gives rise to our getting the greatest gift, the power to bear witness. Without the Spirit, we have no one to wake us from stupor, to make us perceive Jesus’ presence, to defend us, to teach us everything, remind us of all of Jesus’ instructions, to guide us to all truth, to open our hearing that we may understand and accept even hard teachings.

Ascending on high, then, Jesus is enthroned as the best and most generous lover. And, indeed, unless he who for our sake became human goes up to heaven with his own humanity, taking with him all his kindred (St. Gregory of Nyssa), it will be extremely difficult for us to grasp that only those who humble themselves and are consumed by love shall be exalted and will attain consummate fullness.

Yes, salvation, just like self-fulfillment, lies in Jesus’ death, which means complete reliance on God and unbreakable solidarity with the weak. St. Vincent puts it thus: “We cannot assure better our eternal happiness than by living and dying in the service of the poor, within the arms of Providence and in real renunciation of ourselves to follow Jesus Christ” (Coste 392).

Those belonging to Jesus rely absolutely on God. Hence, they do not like self-congratulations. Nor do they consider any limitation, not even age, to be an obstacle, even though they feel bad, due to their zeal, that they cannot help other needy people who are waiting for them elsewhere. They give up everything, even their bodies and blood. Seeing Jesus in the poor as in a mirror, then they will know fully and ecstatically, as they are fully and ecstatically known.

Ross Reyes Dizon

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