Sunday, June 2, 2019
The Ascension of the Lord – June 2, 2019
Fr. Thomas Kuller
Jesus is here and not here. We have seen him, but now he is gone. He promises to return and that he will be with us forever. And all at the same time we are charged with his vitality and we are missioned to go into the world.
The First Reading is one of my favorites. Imagine being one of the Apostles. What was it like to have been with Jesus for three years in his teaching and preaching? How would you feel after all that when Jesus was executed and taken away? Could you describe your fear and joy when Jesus returned and continued to appear after he was dead? What would you have asked him? What would you want from him? How would you be changed in the experience of Jesus who was compelling in life, tragic in death, and somehow, some way, continued to be present to you in his resurrected life?
All these things we, too, in 2019, grapple with and we try to make sense out of life, death, and resurrection of this Jesus who has been in one way taken away from us. It’s not good enough to just mull it over and over and over again in our minds, struggling to figure out what it means and what the meaning of our own lives could possibly be.
Our life in Christ is not just about trying to understand who we are and how we figure in to the grand design of it all. Our lives are not just about contemplation for its own sake, but there is indeed a crucial need for prayer, reflection, and openness to the life of grace. That mix of prayer, reflection, and action is put to us in today’s readings.
Jesus tells us to preach his message to all the world. We are reminded of God’s power and glory in the transformation of the universe, and we are let into this wonderful way of being for all of eternity. It all sounds good and lofty, but is there any sense to any of it? Is our faith just something to make us feel better, a set of rationalizations to justify the struggles of what it is to be human? Is any of it really real? Even though the life of Jesus set a new pattern for the so called Western World, has Jesus really made a difference in the way human beings mistreat one another?
Many, many horrible things have been done in the name of Christianity. We all know it. And I am not here to preach about all that, no pun intended. The core of it all is our own simple choices and actions that we make day in and day out. Our upbringing and our culture, including our faith and religion are the main determiners of how we carry out and act on that good that we know in our hearts.
Encountering Jesus and having him be in our lives just like the Apostles transforms us and gives us the confidence to be who we are and to do the simple good things we are made to do. We make it complicated, and that is part of original sin. But Jesus lets us know it’s not complicated. One of my favorite scripture passages is what we heard in the First Reading.
The Apostles are gawking into the sky, mesmerized, trying to figure it out. And that’s ok. The angels, though, know a little better. What are you doing twiddling your thumbs, they say. Get on with it is the message, get to work, do good, remember Jesus, be with God, let the Holy Spirit guide you, keep it simple and you will see and know that your life makes sense and you will help others recognize that we are all drawn into the resurrected life of Christ.