I recently discovered the story of a great Irish lady, Margaret Ball. In the time of persecution of Catholics in her country, her son converted to Protestantism to further his political career. When he became mayor of the city and chairman for church affairs, he sent his mother to prison for having attended Mass. Margaret spent the rest of her life in a dark, cold and wet dungeon until her death at the age of 69. Though she had another son who remained Catholic and supportive of her, upon her death she still bequeathed to her Protestant son all her property.

It was amazing that an old woman would be willing to suffer and die for her faith. Even more surprising was that she willingly accepted the suffering that came from her own son’s hands. On top of it all, at the end of her life, no trace of anger, bitterness, or vengeance resided in her heart as she chose to bless, not curse, this cruel and heartless son. Today, she is Blessed Margaret, one step away from becoming a saint in the church.

As someone who suffered incomparable humiliations and ruthless penalties, Jesus after his resurrection, had every right to exact vengeance on the plotters of his death and on his tormentors on the cross. But the Lord Jesus transformed the instrument of death into a reflection of glory. The resurrection was not God’s act of getting back on his enemies. Rather it was the full manifestation of the unparalleled and incomprehensible mercy and love of God.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the scene of the Ascension. The Lord stood before his disciples. he recounted to them the painful experiences he underwent. Instead of expressing his dismay at the world that did not accept him, he continued to pour out his love on all humanity. Because of the resurrection, there would now be repentance, forgiveness of sins, and the promise of the Spirit. The Lord even blessed them tenderly as he was going up to heaven. In his Ascension, Jesus made clear that God was not giving up on the world, but was giving the world even more reasons to hope and to heal.

This time however, there was a big difference. Jesus would no longer be the one to pursue God’s dream for the world. It would be his disciples, who learning from his example and strengthened by the Spirit, to continue his ministry of joy, his crusade of love, and his passion for conversion and new life. Suffering and death fortified Jesus in his resolve to continue loving, forgiving and welcoming all people. As Christians we must learn to imitate and pray for this same decision in our daily lives.

Think of this for a moment. When your time comes to leave the world, what inheritance will you leave to the people around you? May it be the same as that of Jesus and of Blessed Margaret – the blessing of love, forgiveness and hope.

(pls share with a friend…)