Ascension Thursday-on-Sunday (!)
Here is what I wrote for the Gesu bulletin for this feast. I like it, anyway. Let me know what you think.
For a few years not that long ago, I began to think of the feast of the Ascension as a celebration of abandonment, being left in the lurch, or Arnold saying, “I’ll be back… (whenever).” Jesus ascends to heaven and… we wait. Thanks a lot.
Next, I found a more hopeful approach – Jesus returns to prepare a place for us. He ascends to the place we will “know as we are known.” That didn’t work after a while because it leaves open the now, today. So, what about heaven. What are you doing for me today?
This time around I find the feast of the Ascension to celebrate the mystery of presence and absence of God in and among us. By that I mean we are invited into this paradox in which one term or other may predominate, but neither subsumes its opposite.
So, Christ ascended to the right hand of the Power then, sent the Holy Spirit then, and will return in glory. We, for our part, have received the fullness of the Spirit through baptism & confirmation. We also receive the Lord’s Body & Blood as often as we can. God in us and we in God through Christ and in the Spirit. This is a fait accompli.
And, at the same time, we’re in this kinda limbo between the Giving and the Fulfillment. And during this time, we get to learn about the terms of presence and absence. Sometimes it feels as if God is not present, right? We kinda know God is there, but don’t feel it. Or, we believe God is there and we’re not capable of being present because we hide from the Lord. Sometimes we abandon ourselves.
In this way, we can become explorers of our inner lives to seek our God who is present 24/7. And, to discover the swamps and caves and thick forests wherein we hide out, yet afraid to be fully present to Christ.
This is how I approach the feast of the Ascension in 2017. You? –roc,sj