Bulletin column: The Ascension of the Lord

The Ascension of the Lord

Dear Believers,

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__________

 

 

2 thoughts on “Bulletin column: The Ascension of the Lord

  1. Fr. Ron,

    As a relatively new follower from up north in Centennial, CO, I answered your Ascension questions as follows:
    Sometimes I fear transitions in my life because I feel they will make me more lonely
    Often I fear letting go of the control of my mind or at least my uncontrolled senses
    One of my most difficult “goodbyes” has been to the still relative youth of old age
    I can understand the disciples’ fear of letting go of Jesus because of their recurring fear of insecurity
    I can image the disciple’s anxiety of going into the whole world to proclaim his message because of lack of confidence in their own abilities and not yet fully appreciating the power of the Spirit
    The one thing I would have said to Jesus before he departed is ‘teach me to float’, my new mantra, along with simply ‘calm me, Jesus’.

    I love your Sunday homilies and your drawings and paintings and still hope to one day meet you. I had to miss the LEL retreat last fall.

    Mike Kunsman
    cell 303-717-0867

  2. Dear Ron,
    These questions provide an excellent way to explore the feelings of the disciples as they beheld Jesus taking his leave of them. Your insights are so fresh, in that whenever I have encountered this reading, I have always focused on Jesus rising into the clouds, and not the emotions of the disciples. By focusing on their sorrow at his leaving, you really bring the event into a whole new perspective for me! I was reminded of Acts 20:38, where St. Paul says to the Ephesians as he leaves them, “I shall never see you again”, and it says that they “threw their arms around him and wept without restraint.” The Ascension must have been a whole bag of mixed feelings, much like a wedding or a graduation, filled with both happiness, and sorrow. Like in “Sunrise, Sunset”, moments of transition in life are “laidened with happiness, and tears”. We can not only glimpse the happiness ahead, but the times of sorrow too, and perhaps the Disciples felt the same way.
    Here are my answers to your questions (and thanks to Mike for his great answers above).

    Sometimes I fear transition in my life because of the pain and uncertainty that it sometimes brings.

    Often I fear letting go of what I perceive are my past failings, and the feeling that I still lack God’s forgiveness.

    One of my most difficult ‘goodbyes’ was sending my 2nd wife back to the Philippines because the marriage had fallen apart. It was by far the hardest thing I think I have ever had to do. She has since happily remarried and I survived, so “all’s well that ends well”, but still, it was a difficult decision.

    I can understand the fear of the disciples’ letting Jesus go because I too have been in situations where suddenly the ship of life has no rudder, like when my boss was let go, or even more difficult, watching my mom on her deathbed as her life slipped away, like the very center of your family is suddenly gone.

    I can imagine the disciples anxiety of going into the whole world to proclaim Jesus’ message because they had to trust in the Holy Spirit completely to lead them.

    The one thing I would have said to Jesus before he departed is “don’t forget to write!” (Just kidding!) I would have said, “Jesus, heal us and guide us always!”

    Have a great day!

    -Dan

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