The Ascension of the Lord


Dear Friends,

There are three important celebrations calling for our attention and reflection this week.

First, Happy Feast of the Ascension of the Lord! Biblically, Ascension took place 40 days after the Resurrection and so the actual Ascension Day falls on a Thursday – which is what we used to celebrate. But last year, the bishops of New Jersey decided to permanently transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension to the following Sunday. The bishops’ discernment to have the Ascension on a Sunday is very welcome for more of the faithful to participate in this feast and to be more conscious of the mission Jesus gave before ascending to heaven: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation…” (Mark16:15). To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer.  There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming.  We preach with words but we proclaim with our lives.  We do this when we learn about Jesus and his teachings by our daily study of the Bible and the teachings of the Church, experience him in personal prayer, reception of the Sacraments and works of charity, and convey to others Jesus whom we have experienced with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Second, Happy Mother’s Day! We salute all our Mothers today! The opening sentence of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia, offers the perfect context for Mother’s Day: “The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.” We are truly happy to celebrate the vocation to motherhood as we honor all Mothers of our parish this weekend.  The Pope beautifully describes the impact Mothers have on children: “A mother who watches over her child with tenderness and compassion helps him or her to grow in confidence and to experience that the world is a good and welcoming place. This helps the child to grow in self-esteem and, in turn, to develop a capacity for intimacy and empathy.” Thank you dear mothers, grandmothers, step-mothers, single mothers, and spiritual mothers for living out your vocation, this divine call, despite the overwhelming challenges to be a mother in our times.

Third, happy feast to us all on the feast of our own parish patron, St. Matthias – on May 14. The name ‘Matthias,’ similar to Matthew, means “gift of God.”. The Acts of the Apostles describes the process of choosing Matthias to replace Judas: “it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22) Since there were two candidates fitting these conditions, the Apostles “cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:26). According to various traditions, Matthias preached in Cappadocia, Jerusalem, the shores of the Caspian Sea (in modern day Turkey) and Ethiopia.  He is said to have met his death by crucifixion in Colchis or by stoning in Jerusalem. We honor St. Matthias as someone who knew Jesus personally, and was a witness to the resurrection, meaning that Jesus wasn’t dead, but is very much alive. May our patron saint help us to increase our intimacy and friendship with Jesus.

Happy Feast of Ascension! Happy Mother’s Day! Happy Feast of St. Matthias!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal