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I know and I care

The story is told about a teacher who asked a lazy student: “What’s the difference between innocence and indifference?” The student grudgingly answered: “I don’t know, and I don’t care!” To the student’s surprise, the teacher said: “Correct!”

Today is devoted to the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord. In today’s Gospel, Jesus, the Risen Lord, called His disciples to the mountain and then sent them to make disciples of all nations. At the Lord’s ascension, His disciples already knew who they were (identity), and already cared to do His will (mission). Unless and until we know who we are, and do our mission for the Lord, we cannot be His true disciples.

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With all the events happening in our country and in the world today, let us be vigilant (“I know”) and get involved (“I care”). Now is not the time to be unaware and uncaring. Remember, Christian is our name, and love is our calling.

It amazes me no end how some people can be so full of vanity, greed and pride. May we not be filled with regret someday when we realize that our life was all about I, me, and myself, and that God was nowhere in sight, inside and outside us.

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In our recent pilgrimage to Ireland, one of the pilgrims, Lenie, shared with us her “ascension moment.” So engrossed in work and material concerns, she stopped praying and going to church for many years. And then one night, she dreamt of glowing rosary beads and a very bright light. Soon after, she also dreamt of the image of the Sacred Heart, and of St. James, the saint of the poor. That was many years ago. Now she has become a prayerful person, is again going to church, and helps those who are hungry and homeless. “Payback time,” she calls it, to make amends for her sins. Now Lenie knows, and she cares.

The reason many of us never “take off” in our journey to God’s heart is that many of us are so full of ourselves and are laden with burdens and baggage. We have to let go, and let God. We have to travel light and know again who we are and who God is. We have to set aside our own agenda, and ask again what is God’s agenda for us. Then and only then can we ascend and defy earthly gravity. It’s possible, by God’s grace, if we take the road of service and humility.

One of the highlights of our pilgrimage was our visit to Fr. Patrick Peyton’s memorial center in a peaceful little village called Attymass. Father Peyton had a deep love and devotion to our Blessed Mother. He came to be known as the “Rosary Priest,” spreading the importance of the Rosary worldwide with his famous words: “The family that prays together, stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.” It is prayer that sets us free, and helps toward our personal ascension.

We were also privileged to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in Mayo. On Aug. 21, 1879, at about 8 p.m., the Virgin Mary appeared with St. Joseph and St. John the evangelist at the church, along with a cross, a lamb, and angels. Fifteen people witnessed the apparition for two hours in the pouring rain, while reciting the Rosary. The unique (it happened only once) and silent (no messages from the Blessed Mother) Marian apparition has been approved by the Church. Anyone who cares here must listen to her message, personally.

Who knows? Some people want to know about everything and everyone. These are people who are engrossed in the latest news, rumors, gadgets. These are people who show that they are knowledgeable to impress other people. And then there are people who seek to know God’s will, which leads them to real service and care. For them, it does not matter whether people know it or not. What matters is that God knows, and that is enough.

Who cares? There is so much apathy and indifference nowadays. We must continue to tell the world that we care. In our own little way, we must make our world more peaceful, more livable, and more lovable. Let us take courage in this seemingly foolish and unachievable task from our Lord’s ascension promise: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Remember that it is the way of the cross, not the way of comfort, that leads us to our real and personal resurrection and ascension.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me to keep on knowing, and to keep on caring. Amen.

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