This year, in an intriguing confluence of dates, we celebrate Ascension Sunday on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. As we honor the men and women who laid down their lives to protect their fellow citizens of the world, we also honor the Great Commission, Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples on earth: To go forth and teach the entire world about His love and grace, no matter the cost.

The men and women we honor today understood that their service might require them to make the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus tells us the same when we enlist in His service: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

In the tumult of daily life, it is all too easy to lose track of what we are fighting for, all too tempting to become selfish and self-serving. Instead of looking to the greater good, we focus on our personal desires. Instead of serving each other, we criticize and condemn. Instead of dedicating ourselves to God’s Will, we promote our own agenda and call it His. Only when we follow the example of Jesus and put His Word first, only when we die to this world so we may live in His, are we truly His children.

This weekend, may we ponder anew what it means to be a true citizen of this country and of the Kingdom of God. Let us give thanks for the mighty warriors who, throughout the history of our nation, have given their lives to protect us and all we hold dear. Let us give thanks for the mighty warriors of the Church who have done the same. Let us honor them all by devoting ourselves to the Great Commission and to all God asks us to be.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. ”
John 15:13-15