May 24, 2020
Ascension of the Lord A
Fr. Ed Smith
Acts 1: 1-11; Ephesians 1: 17-23; Matthew 28: 16-20
So much has been going on in our world and our city throughout Lent and the Easter Season. You have had to make changes to your everyday lives, school has been disrupted and lessons learned at home, Junefest, the harbinger of summer, has been postponed, weddings have been delayed, public Masses were suspended, and we have all learned to come no nearer than six feet of one another. That is a lot to take in. But we have done it and tried to adapt our lives as best as possible to an epidemic which caught us by surprise. Now, imagine all that the apostles had to take in as Jesus prepared to return to His Father and commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations. How were they to do this? He was leaving them. They had left everything to follow him. What would keep them from losing heart? The final line of the Gospel answers this: Jesus tells His disciples: “I am with you always.” The empowering presence of Jesus makes His continuing mission in the world possible. He does not abandon His people. He is, indeed, with them always. The Ascension, then is not to be regarded simply as Jesus’ taking leave of this earth, but the continual glorification of the Son of God who is central to the lives of believers “until the end of the age”. So, how can this be? Jesus departs and remains? He is gone but still is here? Yes, He does. Yes, He is. Remember, this is the same Jesus who died and is also risen, who is God and is, at the same time, man, and who was born in Bethlehem but existed from all time. These are not contradictions; rather, they are articles of faith. God is not limited by our human perspective. He promises to be with us forever, and He keeps this pledge. Today we celebrate Jesus’ return to the Father, knowing that He remains intimately involved with God’s beloved creation, His cherished children, and the world in which they live. So, yes, we have been going through a great deal of difficult and even frightening events this year, but knowing that Jesus is here with us, holding on to us, leading us, caring for us, and loving us, makes all the difference in life. That is why, even with ugly words like ‘pandemic’ in our existence, we can still rejoice, be grateful, and see God’s goodness in the world around us. God bless you.