Monday, May 22, 2017

“Why are you standing there looking at the sky?”

Taken from the Acts of the Apostles 1:11, this line uttered by the angels following the Ascension of Our Lord is one of my favorite. It shows our humanity in oh so many ways.  It also makes clear the invitation to stop gazing up and “get going.”

The walk of a disciple is the constant invitation to live boldly our love for Christ. There is also a bit of trepidation as we strive to discover just how God invites us to share the Gospel with others. Mathew’s Gospel even notes this as those assembled “worshipped Him but doubted” (Mt 28:16-18).

I once read that fear and doubt are the exact opposite of faith—they cannot co-exist.

While those gathered saw the resurrected Jesus in their midst, they still doubted. What was the source of their questioning and anxiety? The reality of the resurrection? The promise of Jesus’ words? Their ability to carry out the great commission? The fear of where the invitation might lead? What will others think? All are reasonable thoughts and at their very core, very human.

When I think of those gathered with Jesus that day, I think there is a little bit of them in us today.

How often have we struggled to figure out how to find Jesus in the midst of daily living? How often have we wondered just what it is that God is inviting us to “do”? How often have we wondered how to live our faith in the midst of turmoil? How often have we questioned whether Jesus is truly with us—that He hasn’t abandoned us? How often have we been afraid to admit we need God?

St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians (Eph 1:17-23) reassure us that we have been given the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge. We also have planted within us the seeds of great hope. The challenge is to discover and unleash the Spirit within.

We receive the Holy Spirit in baptism. We consume the Divine Presence in the Eucharist. Through reception of the Sacraments we are constantly filled with the One who will never abandon us and the hope that one day we will be united forever with the One who loves us. This is Good News!

St. Paul reminds us that “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil 4:13).

The Ascension is a time of letting go of our old ways, doubts, and fears and celebrating the new life we received at Easter. As we let go of the practices, habits, and sins that are obstacles in our relationship with God as we embrace new life in Christ. We reflect with gratitude on the experiences of life that led us to this point and gratefully break the chains of what impedes our path.

Let us reflect on how much God truly loves us as we enter into the silence of our own “Upper Room” to pray and discern where the Holy Spirit is inviting us as part of the invitation to go forth to make disciples of all nations.