Living the Gospel – The Ascension of the Lord – May 13, 2018

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Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. As I read through the readings for today and reflected on the Ascension I was struck with a similarity to Christ’s church today. We’ll get to that in a minute, but for a moment step back in time with me. Take some time to close your eyes and imagine yourself standing with the disciples, feeling the sun on your face, smelling the air, feeling the warm wind blowing across your skin, looking into the risen Christ’s eyes and listening to his words. Can you feel the joy in your heart that our Lord was not dead any longer but had risen from the dead? He is standing right in front of us talking. As I picture myself standing in front of him, listening intently, the peace I am feeling overwhelms me to the point of tears, but then I watch him ascend to be with our Father. While this moment is so beautiful, at the same time I am a little scared. Not in the same way I was when he was crucified, but still scared. In the weeks preceding the event the disciples had been through a lot of turmoil. Their Lord had been taken prisoner, was crucified, rose from the dead and appeared to them, and left them, again! Now, the parallel I see in the Ascension and Christ’s church today is this, both then and now His church faced a time of turmoil and change. Today, our priests are becoming fewer, we are facing increasing persecution for our beliefs, and the laity is having to step up and take some responsibility. Then, their leader was suddenly not physically with them, they were instructed to preach a message that was not popular with everyone, and they had to step up and take on more responsibility. But did he ever really leave them? Has he really left us? We see in the Gospel reading that even after the ascension “they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them.” How could he work with them if he wasn’t with them? The answer is, his spirit never left them, and it will never leave us, it will always be there. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever. Amen! There is no way to deny that we are facing a lot of change, but we are not facing it alone. We face the same choice Christ’s disciples faced, we can either quit and run, or continue to love, trust and follow Jesus, knowing that he is ALWAYS with us. I know what my choice is, what’s yours?

John Mihalko