What better place to be on the feast of the Ascension than here in Ennis Cathedral. Here we have a magnificent depiction of the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven, surrounded by the disciples who are in raptures of wonder and amazement. This great image before us captures something of the magnificence of the Mystery that is the Ascension.
The heart of the Matter!
It is very tempting for us today in Ennis, or wherever you are looking in from, as it was for the Disciples over 2,000 years ago, to stand looking up to heaven, muttering to ourselves and wishing that Jesus would walk among us as he did the streets of Palestine or ancient Israel. (Speaking of the Holy Land – how profoundly sad it is to see the events this week there and we keep all concerned there in our prayers during this Mass. We keep the people of India with whom we have such affiliation in our prayers also).
Returning to the apostles in the Ascension, likewise, we might lose ourselves in the heavenly gaze and wish to live our lives thinking only heavenly thoughts. And you know what they say about someone whose mind is solely on heavenly matters: He or she is not an earthly bit of use to anyone!
No, the disciples took Jesus’ words to heart and got on with living their lives and fulfilling his loving direction to “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” We are all called to participate in this mission. The Ascension has imposed a great responsibility on us as individuals and as members of a community.
A feast of Hope
On the one hand while the Ascension is tinged with the sadness of the departure of Jesus. However, the feast of the Ascension is ultimately a feast of hope as it conveys an ongoing presence of Jesus in His resurrected form and the presence of the Holy Spirit is hot on the heels of that. Easter is a succession of feasts that emphasise our participation in the hope-filled life of a Christian.
Emerging upwards into a new reality!
Emerging from lockdown is welcome and we are a bit like the early disciples who were initially shell-shocked at Jesus’ going form them; but they recovered because he had left them with a sense of purpose and determination to preach his Good News to the World.
Coming out of lockdown reminds us of the simple joys of life. It is our opportunity to ascend to new heights in our own lives. These are the manageable and realistic heights, the goals and ambitions that are realisable as like the disciples we get on with our lives every day. In simple moments and simple words and simple actions we continue the work Christ has left for us to do:
- being there for your family,
- appreciating the gift of health,
- reaching out in kindness and with toleration to those around us,
- forgiving much and loving more.
We emerge from the lows of lockdown with an awareness of responsibility and commitment to following health guidelines. On this Ascension Day may each of us ascend to the height of our own potential for living a good life.
Relay Race – Passing the Baton
The Feast of the Ascension might be compared to the passing of the baton in a relay race. The most important time in any relay race is the passing of the baton from one runner to another. More relays are won or lost at the moment of passing on the baton.
On this day over 2,000 years ago, Jesus passed the baton of responsibility for the Kingdom of God to us. The baton of faith was passed to each one of us at our baptisms and throughout the various stages of our lives to date we have been running the race and in turn passing on faith and hope to others.
The feast of the Ascension is a good day to reflect on our ability to run the race of life.
- Have we the fitness and stamina to last the race?
- Do we possess the timing and skill to know when and how to put the love of God into effect in our lives?
- Do we possess the team spirit or community mindedness that is called for as Christians journey through life?
- Above all, do we have the courage and the steeliness of perseverance required to hold onto the baton of faith and to know when it needs to be passed onto others?
Like the disciples before us, the encouragement of today’s feast of the Ascension is to get our heads out of the clouds and concentrate on life’s realities. We need to know that the path to heaven is the path of life. Engage with the world around you and play your part in the joint venture of Christian living…