Daily Thoughts: Welcome to June everyone! I offer you two reflections on the scriptures today, as this Sunday is one of those confusing days in our Church year. In some places particularly in the eastern part of the United States we are celebrating the Seventh Sunday of Easter however in most of the United States we are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. In my opinion I wish the bishops would get together and all do the same thing. I don’t care which option they choose but as a Church and a country let’s choose one!
However, until that happens, I offer you two reflections one on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord and other on the Seventh Sunday of Easter. You can pick the one that best helps you today….
Feast of the Ascension of the Lord
“Men Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” I have always liked this little phase at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. For me it sets the stage for everything that Luke is going to tell Theophilus about Jesus and this community call Church. Perhaps this question directed at Jesus’ followers just after he ascended into heaven sits at the center of our life as Church.
Sometimes as a Church I think we are standing there look up at the sky. We are looking at the past. We are looking at what use to be and not what is. We are looking back hoping the past will be the present and the future.
The angel’s question to the disciples perhaps was not just a question but a challenge. Are you going to continue to stand here and just look up at the sky? Are you going to live in the past, put your hope in the past? Or are you going to get busy and be about the ministry Jesus has entrusted you with, are you going to get busy about living of life.
In the movie the Shawshank Redemption Andy at one point tells Red, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” Perhaps that is what the angel is asking Jesus’ disciples the day of the Ascension. What are they now going to do with the mission, the ministry that Jesus has entrusted them with? Their choices are to stand here and keep looking up at the sky, waiting for Jesus to return, thinking of the past or they can get busy living the life, the faith, the hope, the love that Jesus has entrusted to them.
We might say that this celebration of the Feast of the Ascension challenges us in the same way. Are we as a Church just going to stand around looking, waiting for Jesus, are we going to stand in the midst of the past and wait or are we as a people of faith going to get busy living out our faith through the gifts of the Spirit?
If you are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension have a great Sunday!
Seventh Sunday of Easter
The Gospel passage today is taken from the Last Supper discourse in John’s Gospel. You might say that this is the last meal, the last class, the last prayer-service and the last conversation that the disciples had with Jesus before his death. We could say that it is Jesus’ good-bye speech to them. Within it Jesus expresses a profound love for his friends and a deep desire for union, friendship with them. Jesus is one with the Father and longs to share that with his friends and through them to share his love with the world. As with a good-bye speech, there are strong statements of being sent and a wishing to be received. Jesus knows that these friends are a gift from God to him. Jesus loves them as he knows the Father loves him.
Jesus longs for his friends to receive that love as a part of their knowing and receiving themselves. The world in this reflection is not the physical earth, but those people in the world who do not and have not had the chance to encounter Jesus as God’s gift of love. Jesus has been preparing his friends for their mission to be the presence of his love in the world. He is sending them into the world after his death and resurrection to be that presence.
These deep sharings by Jesus are going to be real by his death and resurrection. Love might be suggested in words, but it is most often made real by actions and deeds. Love is the exchange of all that one has with the other who does the same. Jesus has said the words and he lived the words by totally handing himself over to us. All of the love he receives from the Father has been given to us. Intimacy results in fruitfulness. All that Jesus gave to his friends; he now gives to us. All that Jesus shared with the friends he says now to us. Jesus was sent to bring us to life and that life is ours to exchanging with the world. The reception of a love, of gifts, of any intimacy is not an end, but a beginning of living with and then beyond the experience of being so loved.
Have a blessed Sunday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...