Acts 1: 1-11; Eph 1: 17-23; Mark 16: 15-20
I suppose they were expecting “happily ever after”. If we go back 40 days now to Easter, the disciples had just witnessed the horrific death of their friend Jesus, then three days later raised from the dead, and I suppose expected “happily ever after”. Everything was good again. They’ve witnessed all he did as Luke and Mark tell us today and he’ll continue going about the mission that he had come here for in the first place and they can follow along. Yet, and I would hope, that as adults we know enough to know that there are no fairy tales, there is no “happily ever after”. Our lives are just not like that and nor for the disciples so when Jesus is lifted up into heaven today all they can do is look up at the sky and wonder what’s next.
Don’t we all catch ourselves staring at the sky, wondering when God’s going to do something about all the problems in the world. I mean, can’t God do something about poverty, hunger, homelessness, refugees, war, and the countless other problems that plague the world. It’s funny how God gets blamed for all of it while we stand idly by, at times, staring at the sky wondering why. Yet, we hear today that the story doesn’t end with the disciples staring into space, questioning again what’s happening. They, however, are given a command to go! Their fairy tale ending with Jesus just isn’t going to be the reality but instead they’re told to go do something and imitate Jesus along the way, bring that healing and love to the world.
Paul tells us today that we’ve already been given the power to do something in the world. It’s by no means an easy task that lies ahead for the disciples or us for that matter, but he reminds us today that the Spirit is already given to us and the more we learn to trust and have faith in the ascended Lord, the more we can tackle the problems of the world, bringing healing and love along the way. It’s so easy to blame God, or others for that matter, when things aren’t getting done and people are not being cared for in our world. It’s a whole lot easier to live in our “happily ever after” storybook than to face the realities of the world, the very realities that Jesus faced living out this mission. Today is the day the responsibility of the mission is passed onto the disciples to simply Go!
We live in a time, though, when we’d rather blame. The worst thing any of us can tell ourselves is that we’re helpless or powerless for that matter. Any addict can affirm that for us. We begin to tell ourselves, while we stare up at the sky, that the problems are so big, how can I possibly do anything about it. It’s not my responsibility, it’s someone else’s. Our favorite here, well that’s the government’s job. Pass blame, victims of our own circumstances, all while gazing up at the sky waiting for a message to come from on High as to what to do, when all along the disciples are told don’t look up. Rather, go out. The mission is passed onto each.
Of course, it’s necessary, as I said Paul writes that we return to the source of life. We, like the disciples, can also easily fall into the trap of thinking it’s all about us. We begin to think we’re the savior or messiah. Rather, Paul reminds us, as well as the gospel writers, that the Lord needed to ascend. This mission is too big to be contained to a specific location. It was going to need to spread from Jerusalem and Galilee to the ends of the earth but that can only happen because of today’s feast as the Lord ascends before the very eyes of the disciples, remaining with them, now in a unique way, until the end of time. It won’t ever be happily ever after for them or for us. There are too much hurting and suffering in our world today to even begin to think that. Rather, like the disciples, the message of the feast is quite simple, Go! When we allow the Lord to use us and work through us and within us, we bring the only thing that offers hope the world, the gift of our love and the love of God burning within us.
As we celebrate this feast and prepare for the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost next Sunday, we pray for the grace to turn our gaze from the sky and unto the Lord, to be given that Spirit, enlivened within our hearts, so that we can live the command given to the disciples and continues today, to go. No more blaming. No more passing the buck. Heck, no more thinking this is about “happily ever after”. There’s too much work to be done, there is a mission to serve, so go. Go, do something that brings love to the world. Go, do something that brings healing to the world. Go and allow yourself to be used by the Lord for mission and bring the good news through your lives. Go!