May 20, 2012- Feast of the Ascension
The 12 apostles spent more than two fairly quiet years walking after Jesus as he moved back and forth from Galilee to Judea, frequently passing through Samaria. They heard his preaching, they saw his miracles, they were committed. But then things began to get a little rough.
In that first Holy Week, which was ushered in by the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, we saw two trials, one religious and one civil, and then the crucifixion. Finally, and most astounding, the resurrection itself. Then came those forty days of strange and mysterious visits when, from time to time, Jesus would suddenly appear among the apostles conveying extremely important messages which would help the Church to understand itself and to develop according to the mission that they had received from Jesus.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension and once again, we are dealing with startled, stunned and frightened apostles. There was Jesus standing and speaking to them, and then suddenly he begins to ascend to heaven and then disappears. What are they to do? In the next scene, they are facing heaven and two men in white were standing beside them. They said, “Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky? Jesus has been taken up from you into heaven and will come back again in the same way.” Would that make for shock, for wonder, for confusion? You bet. Now begins ten more days of fear and anxiety. That unpleasantness will come to an end in ten days as we celebrate the third most important feast in the life of the Church, PENTECOST and the descent of the Holy Spirit.
That question from those angels was really a challenge to us as well. Why are you standing here? You have got a job to do. Let’s get with it. We also need to know that in our heart of hearts we are being asked: Why are you standing here staring into space? You share in the missionary responsibility.
Let’s get with it.