The Ascension of the Lord
May 28, 2017  
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

Today we are celebrating the Ascension of the Lord. In today’s readings, we heard that Jesus sent the disciples all over the world before returning to the Father: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19) and “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

With the Ascension starts the Church’s mission in the world. Jesus is constantly sending the Church into the world.

I recently participated in a one-day convocation for priests at the Catholic University of America. The theme was “Encroachment on Religious Freedom.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl talked about “The Erosion of Religious Liberty in America,” Dr. Marie Hilliard (National Catholic Bioethics Center) discussed “Legislative Encroachment on Religious Liberty,” and Mr. Anthony R. Picarello (General Council of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) spoke on “Religious Freedom and Our First Amendment Rights.”

The secularists are advancing their own political agendas. They have a program that starts with changing definitions and is followed by creating laws. They have redefined the human person and abortion on demand; they have redefined marriage and sexual mores. Their efforts will not end with these actions.

Religious freedom is at risk. There is a tendency that pretends to identify religious freedom with freedom of worship. You are free to worship inside the temple but you cannot come outside with your doctrines. They could say that we are free to do whatever we want in our hospitals, schools and charities. However, there is the risk of losing tax exemptions or official recognition. We have a recent example when the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington had to shut down their foster care and public adoption program. The District of Columbia said the charities would be ineligible for service because of the new law recognizing same-sex “marriage.”

Unfortunately, there are many examples like this all over the country.

How should we respond? First, we need to be aware of the secularist agenda. Then it is very important that Catholics make their voices heard in the public square. It is not a matter of politics; it is a matter of defending our right to accomplish our mission in this world. That is why religious freedom is so important for us.

“Go and make disciples.” “You will be my witnesses.” Let us follow Jesus’ invitation and let us be heralds of the Gospel in our society, which needs to encounter the only One who can give fullness of life.

We ask Our Lord to give us the same enthusiasm that he gave to the disciples and for the Holy Spirit to inspire us in the bold proclamation of the faith in our world.   Amen.