The Ascension of the Lord 2021: Cover Art and Column

May 16, 2021

The Ascension of the Lord

Dear Followers of the Messiah,

I cannot imagine what the disciples felt when they peered up into the unknown sky as Jesus ascended before them. After all they had been through, being called by him to follow, leaving everything, and even being with him when he died. And if all of that was not enough, he rose from the dead.

The disciples explored new areas of grief at every turn following the Master. I see them scratching their heads as their necks leaned back to see Jesus rise into the unspecified territory of the sky. Their hearts must have broken within their bodies as they witnessed Jesus ascend in his body, taking within him the love and the care he felt for them. The disciples were simply grounded and their feet must have felt like clay. Their hearts must have stopped as Jesus one more time took their breath away in sheer amazement and wonder.

Jesus had to depart human existence so that he could be known throughout the world through the glorious gift of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost.  Jesus’ body had to disappear so that his Spirit could live within all of us. The Ascension only means something when we also ponder the meaning of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. That is the celebration for next weekend.

In Mark 16:15-20, the disciples continue to have one foot in faith and the other in doubt. They still are not quite sure what to do as Jesus leaves them yet one more time, and of course, this time for good. Imagine how their ears must have buzzed hearing the next words of Jesus, “Go. Do not stop. Baptize. Love. Work. Leave everything. Do not look back. Take nothing with you. Hold serpents. Hold me in your heart. I will speak to you. I will show you the wonders of my presence. Preach everywhere.”

I am stuck in this year as we celebrate the Ascension, that we have been experiencing our faith as somewhat disembodied. We are not all physically together as we once were in our churches. Yet, we know our deep connection in love. The disciples watched as Jesus left them. His body disappeared. So with us now, our bodies are not together. We rely on the gift of our faith to become the people he asked us to become.

Much of what Jesus asked is to take care of people’s bodies. We are to comfort the sick. We are to visit the prisoner. We are to console the grieving. We are to wipe the tears of those who have been abused. We anoint the sick. We mark our bodies with the Sign of Cross before prayer. We are to take to heart the human lives of people who really need God. This happens within our own bodies, where the Spirit of God motivates us and consoles us.

The Holy Spirit brings soul and body together. We can never lose such a gift. No matter where we pray, we belong together. No matter our isolation, we are united in Him. No matter how we are frustrated in life, we are consoled mind, body and soul, in His sacred presence.

We may feel in this time that Jesus has left us. We wait to feel the breeze of the Holy Spirit gathering us in song, where human bodies are present, where our hearts turn once again in this Easter season to know we are one in Christ at the Table of God.

“But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.”

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron

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