It’s my new favorite computer icon for the Ascension. Isn’t is a mysterious symbol? Fr. Cletus Tipner showed us how to use it in typing class at St. Mary’s High School in 1969. Finger exercises for using a standard typewriter separated the men from the boys. Old technology, but pretty much the same symbols. My grade was nothing to shake a stick at. Same mystery. And …now what? I remember a story of some student finding a rusted old typewriter at the city dump and bringing it to typing class. In an apparent moment of adolescent frustration, “I CAN’T DO THIS,” he raised the old machine above his head and hurled it to the floor. There are no adjectives for the color of Fr. Cletus’s face as he watched the drama unfold. He later claimed he repaired the typewriter!
On the mountain where “tradition” says Jesus ascended, there is a chapel with a large stone in it that has an indentation which “tradition” says is the imprint of Jesus’s foot! That this chapel is not in Galilee doesn’t seem to matter. The stories wrap the mystery of Jesus’s return to the right hand of the Father. Glorification is the new word. “&” now where he goes, we follow.
What we know about the ascension of the Lord is mostly from St. Luke who gives us two versions, one in the gospel and the other in the Acts of the Apostles. The latter account is our first scripture for his weekend. The gospels of Mark, Matthew and John show very little concern about this event. The commission to go and preach the gospel to all nations is their major concern. That commission continues today in all of us, the Body of Christ, guided and fortified by the Holy Spirit. In the scripture from the Acts of the Apostles, the “two men dressed in white” chide the apostles for gawking at the sky. The repaired angel images are back on either side of our old tabernacle in our high altar. Still asking that question, “What ya looking at?” “This Jesus will return in the same way you have seen him taken up.”
The feast of Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit -completes the Lord physical presence to the disciples. Now his presence is bigger. We are part of that presence that the red presence light indicates next to the tabernacle. There is considerable reflection these past weeks about how the church will look after the terrible pandemic. Right now, we have the same commission to preach, teach and baptize. We may have to wear masks and observe “social distancing.” We may have to do without communion under both kinds for a while. Gatherings may be small and “live streamed” worship may continue, but Jesus’ commission remains, given to us on a mountain just as his Sermon on the Mount was given. The ball is in our court! The feast of the Ascension pushes us toward Pentecost and the final acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit, which we have all received in Baptism and Confirmation. It keeps showing us how to hear, how to be creative, and to outreach boldly into a new situation with the message of the Risen One.
A gentle week,
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM
My thanks to Dominican Friar “R. B.” Williams of Preacher Exchange for parts of this week’s reflection.