Real Hope & Change

  
A tribal chief lay dying. He summoned three of his people and said, “I must select a successor. Climb our holy mountain and return with the most precious gift you can find.” The first brought back a huge gold nugget. The second brought back a priceless gem. The third returned empty-handed saying, “When I reached the mountaintop, I saw on the other side a beautiful land, where people could go for a better life.” The chief said, “You shall succeed me. You’ve brought back the most precious gift of all: a vision of a better tomorrow.”

The hope of a better future, of a brighter day ahead seems a universal human dream. Every heart yearns for happiness. As Christians, we believe that God has placed this yearning in our hearts because He loves us and wants us to be happy. And we know that the fulfillment of all our human desires lies in our union with God. He created us with a God-sized hole in our hearts that only He can fill. As St. Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” But it wasn’t always like that. In the Garden, our first parents were created out of intimate union and love with God. His very breath gave them life and their intimacy with Him was perfect and beyond all our imagining. Somewhere deep inside our own DNA we “remember” that bliss and long for it as we long for that shared breath of life with God. It was sin that shattered our relationship with Him and we are all the inheritors of that original wound.

Out of God’s love, Christ redeemed us through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, healing the rift of our sin and opening the doors of heaven to all who love Him. He came from heaven as a man, as the Good Shepherd and offered our own wounded and broken humanity on His Cross. When He ascended into heaven, the path of our own return to the Father was opened again. Catholics celebrated this wonderful Feast of the Lord’s Ascension just a few weeks ago. We celebrated our own healing hearts and our own return to the God Who made us. We celebrated hope and freedom and love. Not mere words tossed around by everyone from political candidates to talk-show hosts, but real Hope, real Freedom, and real Love found only in Jesus Christ.

In His Ascension, we can also celebrate the hope of our own better tomorrow. For where Christ is, He has promised that we may also be. We too will have glorified bodies, ourselves still, but whole and beautiful and perfected in God’s sight. This is the vision of the life to come that has been given to the Church. When we picture people we love who have gone before us, we can picture all of them this way: whole and beautiful. When we see them again in the fullness of heaven this is what we’ll see. Until then we are the members of His Body, building the Kingdom of God right here among us, through our love and care for one another, especially for the most vulnerable. He calls us to make that vision of a better tomorrow an earthly reality for all His children. We are His hands now.

The Ascension of Christ is the end of the Gospel and the beginning of the mission.” —William Baird

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