As we extinguished the Paschal Candle on the Feast of the Ascension we took it as a sign to us that Jesus Christ has ascended to the Father, and is no longer seen on this earth, because "…He was lifted up before their eyes, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing up to Heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white garments, and said to them, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to Heaven? This Jesus Who has been taken up from you into Heaven, shall come in the same way as you have seen Him going up to Heaven" (Acts 1:9-11).
Those who love Jesus Christ, who love truth, will find themselves like the disciples, looking up to Heaven, where Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father. Like Moses, we are "a stranger in a foreign land" (Exodus 2:22). "Our citizenship is in Heaven from which also we eagerly await a Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ…" (Philippians 3:20).
Where are the days of innocence, the beauty and tranquility of the earth, the peace and accord between nations that should have followed upon the birth of the Prince of Peace? Alas, the nations, after two thousand years of Christianity, are not in obedience to Christ the King but to the devil. His earthly strongholds, like the United Nations Organization, ensure that his plans for the destruction of human rights and freedoms, especially the freedom to practice the one true Religion revealed by God, are carried out. Take note of the following:
LifeSite News reports that Michael Farris, chairman and general counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association, or HSLDA, believes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, accepted by virtually every other nation in the world, could become binding on U.S. citizens because of activist judges. According to a new interpretation of "customary international law," some U.S. judges have ruled the convention applies to American parents. Parents could be prosecuted for preventing their children's access to any material they deem unacceptable; children would have "freedom of thought, conscience and religion"; children would be guaranteed "freedom of association." Parents could also be denied the right to homeschool their children unless a government committee approved it. The committee would even have the right to decide what religious teaching, if any, was best for the child (http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=50395).
But our freedom comes from God, in Whom we find our true home. Like Abraham, called by God to leave his people in the city of Ur of the Chaldees to go out into an unknown land, we are called to follow God wherever He may lead us. Abraham had to leave Ur because the people were idolaters - the whole lot of them. They had no knowledge of the true God. If Abraham had stayed in Ur he would have been swallowed up by the idolatrous generation which surrounded him. It was necessary to leave Ur to find God. Abraham had to be, literally, in exile for the rest of his life. St. Paul teaches in his Epistle to the Hebrews:
"By faith he who is called Abraham obeyed by going out into a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he abode in the Land of Promise as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the co-heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city with fixed foundations, of which city the architect and the builder is God" (Hebrews 11:8-10).
"In the way of faith all these (ancient believers) died without receiving the promises, but beholding them afar off, and saluting them and acknowledging that they were pilgrims and strangers on earth… but as it is they seek after a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:13;16).
Sometimes, in order to be true to our convictions, we have to separate ourselves, even to the point of becoming exiles. We can't just pack up and leave, but Our Lord prayed to the Father for us that we might not be of the world: "I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that Thou take them out of the world, but that Thou keep them from evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth" (John 17:14-17).
"They will expel you from the synagogues," Our Lord says in today's Gospel. "Yes, the hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think he is offering worship to God. And these things they will do because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have spoken to you, that when the time for them has come you may remember that I told you" (John 16:1-4).
We must be ready at all times, living as St. Peter instructs: "But the end of all things is at hand. Be prudent therefore and watchful in prayers. But above all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves; for charity covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without murmuring. According to the gift that each has received, administer it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:7-10).
The best part is that our strength comes from God. Our weakness is not a problem if we call upon the Holy Ghost, Whom Jesus promised to send us from the Father. We need "the strength that God furnishes" (1 Peter 4:11). As Our Lord was about to ascend to the Father He told the disciples: "And I send forth upon you the promise of the Father. But wait here in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).
"If you love Me, keep My commandments," says Our Lord to us even now. "And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you shall know Him, because He will dwell with you, and be in you" (John 14:15-17).
"Long for Christ, confess Christ, and believe in Christ. The Spirit will be added to the letter, and you will be saved. If you take away the Spirit the letter kills, and then what hope will remain? But the Spirit gives life." (St. Augustine, Sermon 136, 5).