As we are about to conclude the great season of Easter with the feast of Ascension and Pentecost, it is good to remind ourselves the meaning and the significance of salvific events we celebrated in this liturgical season. When we say we are redeemed what we actually mean is that our destiny is closely and unbreakably linked with death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. By our faith in Christ we become aware of our dignity, of the heights to which we are raised, and of the meaning of our existence. It transforms us inwardly and gives us a new life that does not disappear and pass away but lasts to eternal life.
St. Luke concludes his gospel describing the ascension of Jesus; Then he led them out as far as Bethany and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Lk24:50-52).
By ascension Jesus was not going away from us and from the world. If that was the case the disciples would have not returned to Jerusalem with joy. The exalted Lord, risen above and sitting at the right hand of the Father is closer to us, without the constraint of space and time. The disciples experienced the presence of Jesus with them in a new and more powerful way.
I read about a priest, Walter Ciszek, by name, who was in Russia for 23 years, five of which were spent in the dreaded Lubyanka prison in Mosco and ten of which were spent in the harsh Siberian slave labour camp. He was finally released from Russia in 1963. After the release, he wrote a book “He Leadeth Me.” In this book, he tries to answer the question: “How did you manage to survive in Russia?” He says:
I was able to endure the inhuman conditions in which I found myself because I experienced somehow the presence of God. I never lost my faith that God was with me, even in the worst of circumstances.
For Fr. Walter Ciszek, and other innumerable martyrs and saints the redeemer was not someone far away from them. They experienced God’s close presence within them in their actual situations of life. It is also true of St. Vincent who always expressed his strong faith in the God who is “here and now” in the concrete events of life and in the poor. So this must be true for each one of us. Jesus our savior is with us to the end of ages.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.