Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Acts 1:1-11, Ephesians 1:17-23, Matthew 28:16-20
“Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?”
Both at the empty tomb and at the Ascension in Luke’s writings, two men dressed in white suddenly appear and ask, “Why?” Heaven seems to be amused in these scenarios.
Jesus defies death and now gravity as well. In the forty days between these two astonishing events he also popped in and out of spaces, walked through walls, and effected a miraculous catch of fish. In the face of such wonders, it is rather amusing that the disciples’ parting words are, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
With infinite patience Jesus redirects them to the source of true power and authority. In the space of a novena, they will receive “the promise of the Father” when the Holy Spirit will come upon them, giving them grace and strength to be his witnesses “to the ends of the earth.”
The fire of the Holy Spirit is necessary because seeing is not always believing. In the Gospel of Matthew today, the eleven disciples gathered at the mountain in Galilee saw Jesus but doubted.
Empirical evidence is apparently weak when it comes to matters of the spirit. Spirit must ignite spirit to open the eyes of the heart.
“May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,” St. Paul prays for the Ephesians, “that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call…”
Jesus will return in the same way as he ascended, we are told by the heavenly visitors. They leave us in suspense.