“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down on you; then you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, yes, even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Two weeks ago our Common Parish Pastoral Council met with Rich Harter, the Director of the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization. Rich shared a new model for our council to consider as we look at the common mission of our family of four parishes. We are called to form believers, i.e. disciples who are on fire with the love of Jesus. We then send disciples out on mission like Jesus did in today’s readings for the Ascension. We reach out to all people, especially seekers. There are many folks who have not had an experience of the Catholic Christian community and are thirsting for the living God. Finally, we call seekers to believe and become disciples. Rich emphasized that before we look at programs or activities to enrich our faith, we need to form believers. I could tell from the comments made by several council members that this approach, while as old as that of the early church, was a paradigm shift. As Bishop Sklba often says, the church does not have a mission; the mission has a church.
The Solemnity of the Ascension reminds us that Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, is now more present to us in His Spirit than when he walked the earth some two thousand years ago. He is head of the church which is his body. We are given the commission to preach the power of the Risen Lord in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. In this week, we observe the oldest novena in our Catholic tradition as we pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day and honor all the women who have had an influence in our lives. We especially honor Mother Mary who prayed with the disciples in the upper room for the coming of the Holy Spirit. We also pray for our deceased mothers. Today, May 8th, would have been the 68th wedding anniversary of my parents, may they rest in peace.
Fr. Mike Michalski