Ascension of the Lord
Those close to me know that I am not someone with a great imagination, so trying to meditate on bible stories is difficult, the Ascension of the Lord being one of the hardest. When I try to imagine Jesus ascending into heaven, I can’t help but chuckle at the picture in my head suddenly there’s a choir of angels and a startling bright light on the scene. Jesus remains calm as he slowly starts to fly upward, and Peter tries to grab his foot to keep him on earth. It’s a somewhat anticlimactic finish as the apostles watch him become a small dot in the sky. As I sit with this reading and this poorly produced scene in my head, I don’t quite know how to respond. So, it’s comforting to know that the apostles were in the same boat.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, after Jesus is taken away, two angels appear and question the apostles who are standing there unresponsive. The angels ask, “Why are you looking at the sky?” and just like all questions from the divine, it does not come from a place of curiosity or a lack of knowledge, but this question is a call to action. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension are not just stories to marvel at, but they are something to imitate. This theme continues as St. Paul tells the Ephesians in the second reading that God wants to open the eyes of our hearts. Whether or not we have the physical ability to see the works of God, it’s our hearts that need to be open to enable us to go beyond seeing to responding.
Jesus sums all of this up nicely in the Gospel by preaching to His apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Just before this, the apostles were doubting Jesus’ presence, yet still, they respond and act on his words. And now it’s your turn. Let His words be a conviction for you. Let His Ascension breathe hope into your life. Let today be a reminder that while it may seem that Jesus has left you, abandoned you, forgotten you, He has promised that He is “with you always, until the end of the age.” The Ascension is a mystery, a scene of Jesus’ life that we struggle to imagine or comprehend, but you were made for a faith that has the power to put all doubt and fear to rest. So don’t just stand there, take action!