16th May 2021
THE ASCENSION ENABLES US TO WAIT WHILE WITNESSING
"And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father. "
The key word here is wait and the opening interchange between Jesus and the apostles reminds us of our grounding in a central element of history - God created us for life and preserves us. In relation to the above, we see that Jesus was presented to the apostles alive after his suffering. Because he has life, we also have life through the Holy Spirit who keeps alive God's purposes and brings God's life - giving power.
If those purposes seem empty or that power seems absent, at times we serve best by waiting. In our current culture, waiting is generally held as something to be avoided because it has elements of anxiety and uncertainty.
Think of those moments when you were waiting for your examination result to be out, how did you feel? How did you feel waiting for your wedding day? How will you feel waiting to get into an interview room, and when you get a job after a successful interview, what do you do as you wait to report to your first job? How does a soon to be mother feel as she waits to deliver?
We have fast food, next day deliveries, nonstop flights, Google searches that just take a few seconds, instant coffee and tea bags, text messaging - all these examples show that we do not like waiting for long. Waiting could be the reason the apostles might have asked Jesus, " Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel? " It seems they were tired of waiting for this restoration.
When Jesus answers them, " It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses to all the ends of earth, " he is passing the message that God of all times acts on God's own time and sometimes as we wait, we do so continuing with our role of witnessing and living faithfully according to the promises of God.
While we wait, the Ascension of Jesus reminds us not to assume we already know what we are waiting for. Sometimes when waiting we tend to " know" what we are waiting for. For example, after a job interview, it is definite that you will be waiting to get a job.
Towards the end of the First Reading we hear these words, " Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven, " as we wait for Jesus to come back we may be tempted to define when, where or how we will come back and get lost in that waiting looking up and forgetting that down here we have to work in the name of the same Jesus whose fame we cannot tame but only frame well.
Let us therefore understand the Ascension in terms of waiting while witnessing as Paul writes to the Ephesians in the second reading, "I beg you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called." The Ascension gives us the opportunity to wait and be empowered to do, act where we are and wherever God calls us to go.
Therefore, what are you waiting for? The return of Jesus? Yes, but as you wait it is time to move on in lowliness, meekness, patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace as the Second Reading has enlightened us.