This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Ascencion of the Lord. Those who grew up hearing the Church catechism about Jesus’ Ascencion know precisely that this event is about His going up to heaven after His resurrection.
In the Gospel this Sunday, we are told not just of Christ’s return to the Father, but also His commissioning of the 11 apostles “to make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:16-20).
But how does one make disciples?
I heard of an anecdote of a teacher in a catechism class, who was baffled whether to give the best catechism award to a student who aced all her exams, answered all the recitation questions she would throw to the class, besting all her classmates—except that she’s not a Catholic.
‘To make disciples’ is not just to memorize the articles of our faith or to learn how to efficiently proclaim the Christian doctrine.
In one casual exchange, one priest mentioned that teaching the Christian doctrine will necessary come only after one is captivated by the beauty of a life of a person who has exemplified the essence of the doctrine. After being drawn toward it, one will be willing to learn it.
It was one Saturday afternoon— I was 12 years old that time, I still distinctly recall—when I noticed that my young friends had vanished from the street where we used to hang out. This surprised me because we used to be all out of our homes on this day of the week and at this time of the day enjoying ourselves since it’s a school-free day.
I would discover eventually that they had found another veritable playground: the parish—and a playmate: a Salesian of Don Bosco (SDB) in the person of then Br. Roger Miranda, now a full-fledged priest living in Papua New Guinea as a missionary.
But then again, they were not just there to play, they flocked to the parish to enlist themselves as altar servers. And because I was left alone by myself, I eventually joined the bandwagon.
The first time I attended the meeting, it dawned on me why my friends were all hooked to their new world: they played games, developed friendship with new kids of their same age, but at the middle of this was the person of Br. Roger, who was more than twice our age and yet was more like one of us.
I was fond of listening to his down-to-earth explanation of the Sunday Gospel and brief catechism lessons every Saturday afternoon. But more than these, I was drawn to listen to the words he did not utter—but which was more eloquently expressed—his mildness, his warm friendship, his presence which placed all of us at ease—Ah! He was indeed an epitome of kindness!
The mission of Jesus did not end when He went up back to heaven. His mission goes on, and is shared to us; but we can only carry it out masterfully if we live by His example, by walking the talk, by making our lives a beautiful model to imitate.