Today Christians celebrate the feast of the Ascension, the day commemorating the moment when Christ left the earth and commissioned the apostles to continue spreading the message that he had been teaching throughout his public life. The beginning of the Acts of the Apostles chronicles this event (ACTS 1:1-11) and the letters of Paul, Peter, John and others that follow that scriptural book give evidence of how those charged with the task carried out their sacred commission.
In urging members of the budding Christian community in Ephesus, St. Paul acknowledges that everyone has a specific role to play in the building up of Christ’s body in order to “attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God…to the extent of the full stature of Christ.” Here (Eph. 4:1-7) he urges all of them, regardless of their place or status in the community, to “live in a manner worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…”
I could spend my life reflecting on just that last quote. I actually read and use it often in prayer services because I think it captures the essence of the teachings and example of Jesus. Today, then, I renew my resolve to keep those words swirling around my every step: humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, unity, peace…all suffused with a hefty dose of love.