Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20

Leonardo da Vinci was working on a large canvas in his studio: he chose the subject, sketched the outline, applied the colours. Then he stopped, summoned one of his students, and invited him to complete the work. The horrified student protested that he was unworthy and unable to complete the work which his master had begun. But da Vinci silenced him: “Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?”

Our master began his work of proclaiming the good news by what he said and did, and by his passion, death, and resurrection. Then he stopped and summoned his disciples to complete the work.
This is the thrust of the Ascension. Jesus gives his disciples a program (witness to him) and a promise (the Holy Spirit).

This focus comes through beautifully in today’s selection of readings.
In the gospel, Jesus commissions his disciples to teach all nations and to make disciples of them. He promises to be with them “always, until the end of the age.”
In the first reading, the program and the promise are similar. Jesus calls his disciples to be his “witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” and promises them the power of the Spirit.

There are three aspects about Christian witness.
a) in a court, a witness cannot give hearsay evidence but personal experience; a Christian testifies to a personal experience of God.
b) witness is not of words but of deeds.
c) the Greek word for witness and for martyr is the same: “martus”; to be a witness means to live the mission of Christ no matter what the cost.

Christian witness sounds a tough task. And it is… if we attempt it alone. That’s why Jesus promises his presence and the Spirit, the Comforter (which comes from the Latin fortis, which means strong). The Spirit strengthens the disciples to carry on the mission of Christ.

Like da Vinci’s disciple, we may think we are unworthy and unable to complete the work of our master.
Will his life not inspire us to do our best? How will I witness to Jesus and carry on his mission? Will I live the program and rely on the promise?

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB


Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21

Home Alone. The real-life experience, not the movie, of many people. Here’s just one story: 

“I am sixteen. A year ago, I lost the most important person in my life: my grandmother. She was my world, and suddenly she was gone. I was alone. I cried for days, cursing God, her, and even myself for her death. I had no idea how to get through my freshman year, but I did. Now I remember her and do what I know she would want me to do: help people.”

Alone. On their own. That’s perhaps the way the apostles felt during the Last Supper.

Jesus, the most important person in their lives, has repeatedly told them about his death. Jesus promises them his Spirit to comfort and lead them: “The Father… will give you another advocate to be with you always… I will not leave you orphans.” He reminds them: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

A promise and a reminder! The promise of the eternal, comforting, abiding, and advocating presence of the Spirit. The reminder that they will experience the full presence of the Spirit when they love… because the Spirit is love.

We see the promise and the reminder unfold in the first reading: with the power of the Spirit and with love, the disciples go out to proclaim Christ to the people of Samaria. Like the sixteen-year-old, when they reach out, they are alone no longer.

We, too, have been given this gift of the Spirit. Why do we still feel lonely and troubled? Perhaps because we have forgotten the promise and the reminder. 

Am I open to the comforting and guiding presence of the Spirit? Do I keep the commandment of love? Then… I will not be alone. I will not feel “orphaned”.

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB


Acts 6:1-7; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12

A little boy was scared to sleep alone. He called out to his dad: “I’m scared. Please stay here with me.”
Dad said: “Son, nothing will happen to you. Mom and I are in the next room.”
“I know, Daddy. But I’m scared.”
“There’s no reason to be scared. God is there with you.”
“I know that, also, Daddy. But I want someone with skin on.”

The little boy’s fear is like the disciples’ fear. Jesus—their master, for whom they left everything—is leaving them. They are afraid to face the world alone; they fear staying in their “room” alone.

Jesus assures them that there is no need to be afraid and gives them three fear busters.
The first fear buster: faith in God and his Son. “You believe in God, believe also in me.”
The second fear buster: God is with us. Jesus tells Philip: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father… I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” In and through his Son, God is by our side, is present with skin on, is deeply involved in the events and crises of our world.
Jesus says: “I am going to prepare a place for you.” God has a special place for each one of us in the church and in the world. We need to find that place/mission/role. The third fear buster: finding our place and mission in life.

Does this mean we won’t have problems? No! The first reading describes the problems the fledgling church has in the food distribution system!
The fear busters help the church overcome this problem. Faith in God and the awareness of his presence with them keep the apostles from getting overwhelmed. They find their place and role in the church: the apostles focus on preaching; they appoint deacons to look after the administration.

The little boy’s fear is like our own. Problems assail us, the darkness of our “nights” frighten us. We need someone—with skin on—by our side.
Do I have faith in God? Do I believe that he is with me in his Son and in people? What am I doing to find my place in life?
May we hear the Lord say: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB