I was once concerned with the congregation leaving the mass before the final blessing. So, I made my research and came to know that the final blessing is the liturgical representation of the Ascension, that is, when Jesus ascended to heaven, he instructed the apostles and disciples to "preach the gospel to every creature, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"; to make disciples of all nations. Then he said, "Lo, I am with you until the end of the world."
If we were in the same original Ascension event, we would be filled with awe and wonder; we may not understand what is happening and how it can happen. All we know that Jesus our Beloved is going up to the heavens and we would not see him anymore. But even so, our hearts would be filled with peace upon knowing the Jesus indeed is the Son of God, and we would be taking up the mission to continue what Jesus started.
At the end of the mass, I wonder if we feel these same things. Probably not. But the challenge is still there. As the Eucharist is celebrated each day, let us take the invitation it brings to our lives:
- to experience Jesus concretely, to hear his word, to inculcate his values, and to turn away fromt the lures of this world. Only then could we embrace true peace.
- to be imbued with hope that all is not lost; rather, that everything becomes a new beginning for those who commit themselves to Christ. After the mass, we might see the same, almost hopeless situation of people who have lost faith in the Lord, of of relationships wounded by and estranged, and a situation of poverty brought about by selfishness, greed, and corruption. Yet, everything is not lost. It becomes a new beginning; there are new opportunities for us to serve.
- to heed unceasingly the call of the Lord "to preach, to baptise..." It is our ultimate call in this world, not to make ourselves rich, or to survive, but the ultimate call is to make God's word fruitful, to infect people with the goodness of the Lord; to transform the world.
At the end of the mass, instead of the usual "Thanks be to God", let our thanks be genuine. Let us contribute to transforming the world according to the Lord!