I heard a great story the other day about a very short sermon. A priest used a helium balloon to demonstrate to schoolchildren about the Ascension of the Lord. He let it rise, and then asked after a few seconds, "Why are you looking up? The work to be done is down here!"
In Acts 1:9-11 we read this story. I picture His followers looking up into the sky slack-jawed! I am sure that I would have, as well—this was no Hollywood special effect; Jesus had no stunt double!
Seriously though, these witnesses of all that Jesus did, and of this amazing event, not only spread the Gospel and carried on the mission of Jesus, but many—all of the apostles, for that matter—gave their lives as martyrs for what they knew to be true. The Church continues on to this day, and Jesus promised "I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Mt. 28: 20).
". . . Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit . . . but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:4-5, 8).
In the first reading of this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we read Acts 1:12-14, where we see the apostles back in the upper room, where they were staying to pray as Jesus commanded before He departed. They needed to pray to be given the power of the Holy Spirit, to accomplish all that would be required of them on their missions.
As Father said to the school children in that lesson, the work is down here. We are all given a mission in life. Some are called to foreign mission fields, and some to specific work in the Church. Most of us have our mission right where we are right now today in our homes with our families, friends, and in our community. All of God's people are given work to do to spread the Good News. We can't all go on missionary trips, but we can pray for and support those who do. A friend told me a story about her mother who had multiple sclerosis from age 50 until she died in her 80s. At the end all she had left was her mind. She was always cheerful, and praying for others. She taught so many about grace in suffering.
We are all given a mission, but we need the power of the Holy Spirit, and His help to accomplish what we are each given to do.
This is a timely reading for me, personally, because this weekend Ed and I are a team couple for a Marriage Encounter. I have been learning more and more to pray for the Holy Spirit's help and guidance. I wrote early on, when I first started this column, that I have never liked to do public speaking. Yet, here I am! I know that I couldn't do this work without His help. I have to depend totally on God to help me memorize, and deliver my talks over the weekends. I can't read notes like all the other team members do, so I write the talks, and then try to commit to memory what I wrote keeping an outline in my mind. There have been times in the past that I have been so nervous that I literally have sat there with the team giving their examples ahead of me, and I'm up next not remembering a thing of what I am suppose to say!
In a near panic I whisper up a prayer asking for help.At the last moment, the first line of my talk will come into my mind, and I know that He is there!
Down here, helping me, guiding me, on my mission!
6/2/2011 4:00:00 AM