Acts 1: 1-11; Eph 1: 17-23; Matthew 28: 16-20
So now what? I can hear those thoughts and words working within the disciples on this Feast of Ascension, wondering what the heck is going on! The readings give the illusion that for the disciples, it’s a lot like the Cross of Good Friday, Jesus leaving and abandoning them and now here he is again, leaving and they’re left wondering, so now what? Why is he leaving again? Now what do we do? Where do we go from here and what is this Spirit that is spoken of? A people already with limited view, questioning everything, misinterpreting the meaning of their lives, and so now what’s he asking of us?
Yet, the simple message that Luke puts in the mouth of Jesus to the disciples is quite simple, “wait.” They aren’t quite ready for what is to come and what’s about to happen and so they are told to wait, and let’s face it, we don’t like to wait and we aren’t good at waiting. We want things now or yesterday but to know what’s next we must first, like the disciples, wait. Their hearts aren’t ready to go where the Head, Christ, has gone, ascending to the Father. Their hearts continue to hold them back. They are weighed down from ascending by the fears, their doubts, their questions, and all they can do is simply gaze at the sky wondering where’s he going and what’s next. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians today to seek enlightened eyes of the heart. But of course, that waiting that he asks of us doesn’t come easy but gradually, as we allow ourselves to be open to the Spirit that we anticipate on Pentecost, slowly Mystery makes progress in our lives and hearts and we can begin to let go. We can begin to let go of the doubts, the questions, the fears, the uncertainties, the anxieties that hold us back and weigh down our hearts. It gets to the point where we can begin to feel our heart being drawn out of us to return home, to ascend to the Head, in Christ, where it desires to be, where it wants to be. But until then, we wait.
It’s probably where most of us often find ourselves. We find ourselves holding onto a heavy heart and not wanting to let it go. But even for the disciples, this feast was a necessary one. Jesus once again shows the way. If Jesus were to stay, he remains bound to time and space, but the great commission given in today’s gospel is one that takes them beyond time and space. It’s one that takes them to the ends of the earth and until the end of the age, forming disciples to witness to his love and forgiveness. They want it. We want it; we feel ourselves being pulled from the confines of our pews to go out and proclaim the good news with our lives. So what’s holding me back? Now what has to happen before I commit myself to live this great commission? Maybe we just have to wait, open ourselves to the Spirit breaking in, allowing what holds us back to be let go from us, and gradually our heart is set on fire, flying high, for we too are no longer held back by time and space and our now sent to the ends of the earth! On this Feast of Ascension, we pray for a readiness of that Spirit coming upon us on Pentecost that we too can set the world ablaze as disciples of Christ!