Ascension of the Lord
Yes I know, Ascension was traditionally celebrated this past Thursday. We are one of the many dioceses that has moved Ascension to Sunday. This way we get you when we know you are more likely to come to Church!
In our reading from The Acts of the Apostles, we have the disciples standing around with their eyes focused on the sky. Granted, they have just witnessed their Lord and Savior ascending back to the Father. I think we would all be taking a prolonged gander! Then, two angels appear and give them a bit of a smack. My sense of humor has me hearing the angels kind of hitting them in the shoulder and saying: 'Oi! What are you doing standing around like a lump? Don't you get it? Jesus is going to come back but right now you have to get busy. There is a lot that needs to be done so stop gazing at the sky and get at it!' That's what I hear when I read this passage of Scripture.
The scene describes us to the letter I believe. The disciples are wounded by their past and are so desperate for the future that they forget the here and now. We can become so paralyzed by the past that we look to some "magical" future yet to be seen and we forget to live NOW! We can obsess over the past and pine for a "perfect" future and in the process, forget to live.
The Ascension tells us many things. First, this is not the end! Jesus will return, descending from Heaven to claim his faithful followers. Second, we can't just sit around and wait for Jesus to return and get lazy. Third, we are called to do God's work in the world NOW! Not tomorrow or next year but today. The past cannot be changed and we cannot pine away for the future. What we have is today. The very moment we live in right now is all that we know. So what are we doing with today?
Many in the early months after Jesus' Ascension were convinced that there was no future because Jesus was coming back the day after tomorrow. They clambered to the hills and mountains and waited. What they learned in the past was not important. They longed for Jesus' return and they sacrificed the present in the process. Many of those folks died on the mountain-top.
Being a Christian doesn't entail sitting around obsessing over the past and being lazy just biding our time until the Second Coming! Being a Christian means that we go forward working for the conversion of the world right now! The Ascension is a call to get to work. We don't know if Jesus will return tomorrow or a 1000 years from now. What we do know is that we are called, today. There is much to be done, today. We can't change the past and we can't force the future to bend to our will. However, we can transform our self, our world, TODAY!
So the angels call to us today: 'Oi! What are you doing standing around like a lump? Don't you get it? Jesus is going to come back but right now you have to get busy. There is a lot that needs to be done so stop gazing at the sky and get at it!