Ascension Sunday, May 20th, 2012
7th Sunday of Easter: Ascension of the Lord
Later Jesus appeared to the eleven themselves…And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.
(Mark 16:14–20 NRSV)
Twelve sets of footsteps could be seen on the way up to the mountain; maybe more. One less were seen on the way down. The Lord had gone from their sight, left earth, ascended into heaven. His work on earth complete for what he would do; his work now was handed over to the apostles, disciples, men and women who had been with him, heard his message and would be the ones to spread this message.
The details of the ascension of Jesus are lost to us; it is commemorated both in Jerusalem and in Galilee. The truth of this mystery is that he would no longer be bodily present among us, but in other ways.
The Mass gives us the ways he is present – in the community, the scripture, and the bread and wine. He is really present where two or more gather in his name; where the word is spoken and when the bread and wine are consecrated into his body and blood. This presence, the closeness of the risen Lord to us, continues from the church and sacraments into daily life.
Mostly in the ordinary – in the daily and common life and relationships of the community. Where we truly try to live in love in the different situations and relationships of life, there God is present. We find his presence when we read the scripture – moments of pondering the word of God. We find his presence also in every living meal which is a human eucharist.
The feast today commemorates absence and then sends us to find him present everywhere among us. The word was made flesh and lived among us; the word has now left us in the flesh and still lives among us.
Risen Lord, lead us into the real presence of your love among us. Word made flesh, be close to us in all our needs.
Donal Neary SJ