Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Allocutio for 21 May 2009, on the Feast of the Ascension

Let’s take sometime to imagine that we are on the scene of today’s Gospel (Mark 16: 15-20), and we hear Jesus said these words:

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

I guess, most probably like the Apostles, we remain partly perplexed and partly saddened at his departure. We saw Him withdrew from our sight little by little until a cloud took him out of our sight, showing us that He has entered Heaven. We feel certain taste of sadness in our souls. It has been 3 years since we always together. We miss his human speech, his gesture, his smile, sitting together with us after a long journey or when we pray together. Yes, it is not easy in fact, to get accustomed to the physical absence of Jesus.

But, in spite of everything we feel, which may be the Apostles do feel, let us follow what the Apostles did. They returned to Jerusalem, and the prayed with one mind, together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Jesus’ life on earth finished not with his death on the Cross, but with his Ascension into Heaven. It is the last of the mysteries of His life here on earth, a redemptive mystery which together with his Passion, Death, and Resurrection makes up the Paschal mystery. If people saw him being insulted, mocked, and crucified on the Cross, it is now fitting for them to see the Son of God being glorified, ascended into Heaven. Indeed, He wins over darkness and death and certainly all the more it should strengthen and nourish our hope of attaining Heaven.

Today’s feast also reminds us that our concern for souls is a response to a command of love given to us, all of us, by our Lord. As he goes up to Heaven, Jesus sends us out as his witnesses throughout the whole world. Our responsibility is great because to be Christ’s witness implies first of all that we should try to behave according to his doctrine, that we should struggle to make our actions remind others of Jesus and his lovable personality. All the more for us, Legionaries, whose objective is the Glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayers and active cooperation, under ecclesiastical guidance, in Mary’s and the Church’s work of crushing the head of the serpent and advancing the reign of Christ. Nothing better to be done to advance the reign of Christ than to share the Good News to all creatures. Ascension closes Christ’s earthly mission and begins ours, the disciples’ mission!

Such a big responsibility! But let us again, imitate, what the Apostles did. They returned to Jerusalem, and the prayed with one mind, together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I find this is very suitable for us as Legionaries. After all the struggles, we will return to the meetings, pray together with our fellow legionaries and together with Mary, our Mother. After that, the Apostles did not suddenly become sort of like, superman, or suddenly having a magical power, etc.. but they remain in the world with all their naturalness, spreading the love of Christ and the Good News to everyone around them.

So do we as Legionaries! Ours is to sanctify the world from within, the spirit of the lay apostolate. It is good that today we hear Jesus intercedes for us before his Father: I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. There is no room in the modern apostolic field for stiff, stuffy piosity. The spirit of the Legion should always be one of enterprising, efficient, optimistic, enthusiastic, and peaceful joy (all the more during vacation!). We are all trying to be united with the Mother who is the ‘Cause of our Joy’. There are bound to be obstacles, frustrations, and discouragement, but these should all be overcome by our joyful enthusiasm and enterprising optimism. Sometimes we allow ourselves to become bogged down with problems instead of simply going ahead by concentrating on whatever action is possible. Often we blame our non-responding, lukewarm, lazy, cold, ignorant, friends for they are not convinced of the good in the Legion of Mary. But convinced friends are made by convinced Legionaries. Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm.

Fr. Ripley wrote that, if the Legion in any place is not appealing to enthusiastic youth, there is something wrong with it. We need to remember that people, especially the young people, are attracted in the first place by people, and not merely theories and systems. It is later that they appreciate the value of these other things. Young people want thrilling, adventurous, enterprising work. They are naturally enthusiastic and when they find their elders lacking in enthusiasm, they are disappointed and, so far as the legion is concerned, may not persevere as members. He continues, young people must be attracted to Our Lady’s army and every obstacle in the way must be surmounted.

And our pioneers Legionaries had proven that it is possible! Suppose we were those first Legionaries in Dublin all over again, have we ever thought to ask ourselves, what would be our aims? What would we try to do? Are we less enthusiastic than the pioneers? Are we less convinced? Is there any reason on earth why we in the Legion should be less courageous, less enthusiastic, less enterprising, less optimistic than any political, social, or religious movement in the world?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our hope and source of strength is the same, my dear brothers and sisters. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Let us take this feast of Ascension to renew our zeal and hope, placing ourselves in the disposal of the Virgin Most Powerful. We should be what we are preaching, we should be the good news! Let our friends, family, colleagues, teachers, everyone, see in us smiling, happy, optimistic, enthusiastic workers, relaxed, ready to tackle very problem, anxious to explore every possibility, searching for every opportunity of helping people as the beloved children of Mary and brothers of Jesus that they are. Let us be fountains of cheerfulness and happy social life. Let us not go round worrying about the events of tomorrow which may never happen. This is the spirit that will attract others, for this is the spirit of the most attractive purely human being who has ever lived, of her who is the Mother and the Queen of her Legion!

Jubilee Talks to Legionaries, chapter Enterprising Optimism (Very Rev. Francis J. Canon Ripley)

Conversation with God, Sixth week of Easter, Ascension Sunday (Francis Fernandez)

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