I think it’s safe to say that spring has sprung in South Bend. After trips to Atlanta and Lancaster Pa., it was interesting to come back here and see how the leaves on the trees were much further behind in their development. But now, they’re all out in glory.
In most dioceses of the U.S., this coming Sunday marks the Solemnity of the Ascension it was moved to Sunday from Thursday several years ago.
It’s striking that in Matthew’s account of the Ascension, we hear that the apostles believed, but doubted. Given all the time Jesus spent with them after His resurrection, they still doubt?!
As it was with the slow development of the leaves, so it is with the Apostles’ understanding of who Jesus is and of His mission. In the First Reading from Acts, they are still hoping that Jesus will restore the kingdom to Israel by taking it away from the hated Romans.
Not that we’re all that better!! We still so often operate under the illusion that if God loves me, then he will organize the world to suit me and to keep bad things from happening to me. As long as things are going fine, we believe. When they go bad, we doubt God’s love, even though a lifetime of experience shows that very often some truly good blessings come from that which we thought was bad.
So it was with the Apostles and the Ascension. They thought their world had come to an end with the death of Jesus. But then came the Resurrection. At the Ascension, they again thought their world had come to an end as they stood there gaping at the heavens and wondering “What now?” Then came Pentecost.
The beauty of Jesus’ Ascension and return to the Father is that He is no longer restricted to one place, one time, one group of people. He is now totally, completely, fully present to us all, 24-7, every day of our lives. He is closer to us than the air we breathe. We are living, walking tabernacles of the Lord’s presence.
Be God’s smile for someone today!