Play Ball!

Seventh Sunday of Easter Cycle A

Acts 1:1-11 Psalm Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9 Eph 1:17-23 Mt 28:16-20

A New Season for the Rockies
About a month ago, Baseball season began again, and everyone in Denver is asking the question – How will the Rockies do this year. This time last year, no one expected that the Rockies would make it to the Pennant Race, let alone the World Series, and this year, there is great expectation for our boys in purple – Will this be the year when Denver wins the World Series?

A New Season approaches – Ordinary Time
The Readings for today are kind of along the same lines. Today we are celebrating the Ascension of the Lord, and next Sunday we will celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church. Then we will be back into “Ordinary Time” – The start of a new season in the Church.

What are we focusing on this Season?
In the readings today, we hear Jesus speaking with the Apostles. They ask Him “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus replies - “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.

Many today ask the question – Is now the time for the Rockies to win the World Series? If you came to Mass today wondering if you would learn the answer to this great question, Jesus tells you “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons…”

What we need to focus on this Season
The Apostles are focused on the Kingdom of God, and Jesus tells them not to worry about that but rather to focus on what is important – He goes on to give them our mission – “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Will we make it to the World Series?
This same kind of dialog probably happened in the Rockies dugout at the beginning of the Season, the players, like the Apostles going to Coach Hurdle– “Is this the year to win the World Series” – and Coach Hurdle responding to the team – “Don’t worry about that, let’s focus on the basics of good ball – the future will take care of itself.”

The Coach says – focus on the basics
Likewise, Jesus says to his disciples “Don’t worry about that – lets focus on the basics – Accept the gift of the Holy Spirit and be my witnesses to the ends of the Earth!” Then Jesus ascends into heaven, and the disciples are still standing around looking up at the heavens (probably waiting for the Kingdom of Heaven) – when two Angels appear to them and remind them to get busy about the mission of the Church – “To be my witnesses to the ends of the earth”.

How is the Season shaping up?
How are we doing, as Christ’s Disciples in witnessing to His life to the ends of the Earth? Some would say well, and others would say not so well. If we look about the Church universally, we would see that 2 out of every 3 people living are not Christian. That means that there is still more evangelizing for us to do. Looking at the problem of evangelization at this scale is too difficult, let us leave that problem for the Holy Father, and focus on a more regional area, say in Denver, Here at St. Anthony of Padua, in our homes, at our work or School. Did we witness to Jesus Christ this past week? To whom? How? Why or why not?

Our witness starts with our own relationship with Christ. Do I know Jesus? Do I know him personally? How do I come to know Jesus? - In the body of His Church – the living community that worships and remembers Him.

Bible Thumping and the Canon of Scripture
Our culture views Christians as “Bible Thumpers”. Some of this view is justified, and some not. Do we go to work armed with the Canon of Scripture and Blast away at our Co-Workers. “You cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven unless you are born again from above” “For God so Loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…”. The Gospel message is not witnessed to by words alone, but by words and action. It is not enough to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, rather we need to witness to His Lordship in our lives and our speech.

Witness first with your actions…
When we stand up for those who are bullied at school, when we refuse to listen to gossip at work or at church. We witness to God when we oppose those who murder the innocent with abortion, oppose those who oppress the poor and take advantage of the immigrant. Our action of love are our primary witness of the Gospel. When people ask us why we are doing these things, then we need to reply with the reasons why our hearts have been converted.

The Elevator Speech – Batting Practice
Once a friend challenged me to write down the reason why I am a Christian in 100 words or less. I think that this is a great challenge for all of us, and if you have never had to do this, sit down this next week and try it out. It really is quiet challenging because it forces us to really think about why we are Christian, and what we would share with someone if asked. Mine went something like this…

I am a Christian because God blessed me with health, security, happiness and faith. Every time I encounter struggle God uses it to show me His love.

When I studied the saints I discovered that I shared their burning love for God, and I saw how God cared for them.

In emulating the Love of Christ, the Love that the saints have for God changes me from a selfish lover to a selfless lover. In this selfless love for His brothers and sisters I have found true happiness.


Then with His Word
To be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth in a truly Catholic way means that we witness to the whole Gospel, and the scriptures that come to mind and frame our lives as we engage in the mission of being Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth include “When I was sad you comforted me”, “When I was naked, you clothed me”, “When I was hungry you fed me”, “When I was sick, you cared for me”, and “Whenever you did this for the least of my Brothers, you did it for me.” We are called to be Christ’s witnesses to the end of the earth in our actions, actions of love that mirrors Christ’s selfless love on the Cross.

Christianity is a Team Sport – So Get in the Game!
It is important that all of us here today hear the call of the Gospel – We are all on Jesus’ team. His challenge to all of us this next week is to be His witnesses to the ends of the Earth. At the end of this Mass, it is not just the Priest, or the Deacon, or the Extra-ordinary Ministers, or the Musicians who witness to Christ, but rather all of us are on the same team. Our mission this week is to focus on the fundamentals – and for all of us, Laity, Musicians, and Ministers to get in the game – because Christianity works best when everyone on the team is playing their part! Don’t be a Pew Potato – Go out and Play Ball!

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