Don’t just stand there. Do Something.
Ascension has been moved around across the US landscape over the last years. It is too important to leave it on Thursday of the seventh Easter week. Most working Catholics tended to miss it. So local bishops moved it to the last Easter Sunday. It is stark. The historic, bodily presence of Jesus has come to an end. Now it is up to us, the Body of Christ.
Jesus mission is completed. He returns to the right hand of God.” Jesus was not particularly good at “goodbye.” “I am with you always until the end of the world,” he said — Still so present, no farewell necessary.
Acts pictures the disciples staring into the heavens after the vanishing Lord. They look silly. Those two mysterious men dressed in white tell them they are faced in the wrong direction. I ‘ve been there with my nose in the sky. Tripping over my own feet. We have a God seated on high whose glance is real low. Why stand there with your head up in the clouds? WHY LOOK FOR THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD? He will return in the same way you saw him go. Faith in the resurrected Lord….has one’s attention in other directions. “Within” at the Christ planted in human hearts. And “around” at the Christ planted within the brothers and sisters. But some-times we, like the disciples are looking for him…crying for him…and we just can’t seem to find him to get our arms around him in our messy lives. But there he is.
This Lord now enthroned in heaven, continues to work with the community of his disciples. We are that community, baptized and anointed, fed with the Eucharist, ordained as priestly people, confirmed and forgiven And finally sent out so the world may know and taste regularly an option to our violence and rage, an abundant life, with an abundant hope.
Knowing. That’s the problem, especially when the sky is overcast. The Letter to the Ephesians prays for “the Spirit of wisdom and insight to know him more clearly…to know the great hope to which he has called you., to know the glorious heritage given to the church, to know the immeasurable scope of his power in us who believe… To know the fullness of him who fills the universe in all its parts.” That conviction makes great signs possible in the church. The conviction that he will come back. HE HAS BEEN GLORIFIED AND WE WILL BE RAISED UP WITH HIM. Where he goes we go.
So Ascension is not a good bye. It is a hello. Hello to grace. Hello to salvation. Hello to fellowship. Hello to glory. Full authority has been given to me. Go. Baptize. Teach and Know.
We give thanks for the crowd of sixty or so who will receive Confirmation and First Eucharist this Sunday. It seems we have been giving a lot of tours around the Basilica lately. Maybe we have our own Ascension picture.
A gentle week,
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM