May 18, 2023
Matthew 28: 16-20
We are still in Jerusalem where we were told to stay awaiting the promised Spirit to come to us. It has been 6 long weeks since we experienced the torture and murder of our friend, Jesus. The trauma of that experience has left us filled with the memories and experiences we had together, and, yet, on another level, we are feeling hollow and abandoned.
We certainly did not understand the events that followed the crucifixion a couple of days later when the women who went to give Jesus a proper burial ran to tell us that he was gone. Immediately following that event, 2 of our companions returned from Emmaus with the narrative that Jesus had accompanied them home, spoken and revealed himself to them at a meal. This set off a great deal of tension among us who were in hiding. Loud and heated discussions ensued as to why Jesus had not revealed himself to us first since we clearly thought of ourselves as the privileged ones who had been chosen and followed him for those 3 years. Why did we have to learn from others that he had appeared to them first?
Eventually we left our hiding place in small groups, knowing that the Spirit was going to come upon us at some unknown time. Filled with restlessness when Jesus did appear to us, we asked how and when the restoration would happen and when this Spirit was going to come. Responding in his own cryptic way Jesus say that we are not to know the when and the how of these events…but that they would happen.
Jesus then went out of our sight. This was not unusual since he often just disappeared from view when he wanted to be alone, so we thought nothing of it until 2 men asked us what we were looking into the heavens for and told us that Jesus could return the same way we saw him going.
Contrary to the celebratory words and atmosphere of Psalm 47 that follows today’s Ascension account, I believe that today’s feast is a profoundly quiet account of Jesus home-coming with the fullness of being embraced by the Holy One. Welcoming a child beaten, bruised, unjustly accused, misunderstood, betrayed, and brutally put to death is an intimate reunion filled with deep emotions and intense love. I believe that the trumpet blasts, singing, clapping and shouts of joy is reserved for the Pentecost Event soon to come.
What does the Ascension teach us? I believe that the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead, that boosted him into the heavens on Ascension and the Spirit which will be actualized on Pentecost is with US every moment.
If we allow ourselves to be transformed by that same Spirit:
– We will begin to see what has blinded us,
– We will see the resurrection of the parts of us that we thought dead,
– We will hear what is uncomfortable and it will open our hearts to new learnings about ourselves and others,
– We will be like the lepers, cleansed from the inside out,
– And though lame, we will not only walk but dance in delight that fear no longer holds us captive.
I close with a paraphrase of the classic song (‘The Impossible Dream’ from the play Man of La Mancha) of what Jesus did and asks no less of us…
And the world is better for this,
That one wo/man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his/her last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable stars.
May this be said of each one of us
Matthew 28: 16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
The Gospel of the Lord
Meet Sister Anne Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN