“Moses said to YHWH, “But, never in my life have I been a man of eloquence,either before or since you have spoken to your servant.” Ex 4:10
Ascension of 'The Lord' Year B:
Following the Footsteps of the Spirit.
What is the meaning of ascension for twenty-first-century friends of Jesus? We do not have monarchs; our cosmology doesn't allow us to believe in a three tiered universe with God and Jesus at the top; our understanding of God and nations is more inclusive than the writers of the psalms would allow. The 'Ascended' Jesus calls us to go beyond the boundaries of the temple and Jews, to ALL peoples and nations, beyond geography and physics. Ascension draws us to practice walking with mystery, without understanding; it focus us on the physically absent Jesus and the invisible present Spirit. Ascension encourage us to let go of what preceded our story and look forward to the next one. The story of Jesus' life on earth is concluded but his influence continues in us and through us. And there is that statement that Jesus will return in a similar way. How does Jesus come to us? Does Jesus "come again" NOW? People have become impatient and many even left the church because of sermons on ‘heaven up there’ –but scripture does in fact call us to see the world differently where love of neighbour and God’s compassionate love come together.
Today’s feast tells how the early church understood the resurrection and coped with the now apparent absence of Jesus who showed himself sporadically. One theme in the Acts of the Apostles (1:1-11) reading is the promise to the disciples, ‘You will receive power’. Jesus’ absence led to questions as to where he went. Who will guide them now? What do they do next? But when Jesus says that they will 'receive power' he saying that they will love as he loved; that they would have the power to make the Kingdom of God present in the world by their love for the hungry, the naked, the powerless and homeless; in resisting those who dominate, exploit, and treat others unjustly; by giving their lives for others; by persevering in the face of difficulty and opposition; by doing things they never thought possible.
We find the Spirit's Power at work in a Jesus disciple like - Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen (December 28), when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even...When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel... The good King asks his page where the poor person lives so they can take meat and wine for him and his family to eat. Page and monarch forth they went. Forth they went together. Through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather. As the king and page go through the snow storm the page becomes frightened by the strength of the storm. Sire, the night is darker now and the wind blows stronger. Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer. During the past six weeks of the "Easter Season' we have seen how the 'Footsteps of the Spirit' have been seen in the lives of the first apostles and can be seen in us as we exercise the power to love given us by Christ. The power of the Spirit helps us carry on the mission of Jesus like the 10th century King Wenceslas – a way that involves compassion, respect, sensitivity to peoples needs. These footprints bring the presence of the Kingdom of God (Mark 16:15-20), seen when our relationships are based on 'the signs' of equality, compassion, respect and freedom (better than picking up snakes). These footprints become flesh when we work at overcoming inequities. These footprints are seen as we try to embody what is at the heart of God: an option for the poor. What must be the anguish in God’s heart who longs for Afghanistan, Pakistan Libya, Syria, Iraq and other places of suffering – to walk the footsteps of peace? The witness of any disciple of Jesus is to use the 'Spirit's Power' to love, by working for justice so that peace can be a reality.
Despite difficulties of the weather, the good King Wenceslas with deep faith and fearless in the face of the snow storm invites the faith-faltering page to walk in his footsteps. Mark my footsteps, my good page, tread thou in them boldly. Thou shalt find the winter's rage, freeze thy blood less coldly. As we all journey as disciples we find that we need others to remind us that as individuals we don't have it all but together we can have it all. So, In his mater's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted. Heat was in the very sod, which the saint had printed. Therefore, Christians all, be sure, wealth and rank possessing. You who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing. Jesus is among us and working in a creative, liberating, and supporting partnership with us. If we want to find God we have to look in the places where the Spirit works in people creating, liberating, and helping. We cannot look to Jesus to do, what is now our responsibility. Jesus has left his footprints like good King Wenceslas for us to follow in. Let us walk the talk.