The Ascension of the Lord
We celebrate The Ascension of the Lord this weekend, a feast that prepares us from the gift of Pentecost next weekend. We read the challenging gospel from Mark that calls us into the mission of Christ in his physical absence. However, we are not alone in living the healing, love and purpose of Christ on the earth.
We all know and understand what it means to say “goodbye”. These moments of transition are never easy for anyone. This time of year, students say farewell to classmates and teachers for the summer or in the final goodbye of graduation. This is the time for transitions in employment and summer placements for students, interns, seminarians and so many people on the move. We say goodbye to the depths of winter and look forward with hope to longing days and warmer temperatures. Saying “goodbye” is never easy. I remember the last time I said goodbye to my mother in a nursing home before she died. Some of our goodbyes remain in our hearts our entire lives.
For some people transitions are feared. People who have lost homes in a flood or who live outside or who are on the run from families or the authorities have a fear of loss. The constant internal stripping of transition seems to always be present in life for people who have lost so much. These experiences invite us into the gospel today on this feast. The disciples were very perplexed at Jesus’ death. They could not understand why their friend had to die. Then the transition into the resurrection of Jesus took them awhile to understand that his peace and presence where really real. It seems that Jesus invited his followers into a constant state of transition and change. Life and faith are all about change.
Jesus departs from the disciples into heaven. Imagine how difficult this moment was for the disciples. Before he left, he told them that they would continue to do amazing things for people. They would drive out demons, speak new languages and pick up serpents and drink deadly poison without being harmed. This is an amazing list of achievements. I am not sure that I have done any of those things, but I know that I am still commanded by Jesus to continue his work on earth. The real message here is that there is more to the story. Jesus had to leave so that we would be able to see him everywhere in the gift of the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit will be celebrated next weekend on Pentecost.
Here are some questions to consider as we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord:
Sometimes I fear transitions in my life because I _______________
Often I fear letting go of_______________
One of my most difficult “goodbyes” has been_____________
I can understand the disciples’ fear of letting go of Jesus because____
I can image the disciple’s anxiety of going into the whole world to proclaim his message because ________________
The one thing I would have said to Jesus before he departed is__________