“Men and women of St. Ann parish, why are you standing there looking into the sky?” Is that not a corrective we all need sometimes. Jesus ascended to the heaven, and we’ve been looking at the sky ever since. I understand that temptation.
• Local politics and fire boards are messy – we’ve known that here.
• If smarter minds than I don’t know what to do about the Missouri school transfer law mess, than what hope have I?”
• Was the tax break that was approved in the MO legislature, vetoed and then over ridden, followed by all the tax exemptions which subsequently followed, – a boon for everyone, or just a way to switch money from the poor to the rich without a fight?
Can’t we just sit around praying, looking piously to Jesus, awaiting his return at the end of days, and do that in peace? That would be so much easier. “People of Galilee, why are you STILL looking to the sky? Don’t you know there is work to be done? Don’t you know that if you continue only to look to the heavens, you will have missed the primary point and the momentum of God in Jesus?
A mistake we make as Christians is to move Jesus out of the neighborhood. Relegate Him, not just to heaven, but to one hour (this hour) and to one place (this church). There’s Jesus, going up to heaven, and we’ll just be killing time down here until we can move out to the suburbs as well.
For the truth is that we don’t really like or trust the incarnation all that much. It puts everything too close to home. We have to take ourselves, our bodies, and this earth, and what is going on in the world more seriously than we would like to. It is so much easier to have God far away out there somewhere, Jesus risen up, ascended to the heavens. But I wonder if the Mystery of the Ascension is less about Jesus going up, and more about Jesus going in… – to our hearts, our souls, our lives and our worlds. It is about discovering heaven under our noses: God right here and now.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it so well: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” Jesus says it even more simply: Know that I am with you always…
Truth is – we will never find God in heaven… if we’ve not learned to find God here. That is the scriptural message of today’s readings – to turn our attention away from our future destiny (point forward) back to the here and now (point HERE). The Ascension invites us to know that we cannot enter heaven until heaven enters us.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations we are told. It is so tempting to spend our lives looking up to heaven waiting for Jesus to do something rather than doing something ourselves right here in order to make Jesus’ presence or forgiveness or compassion more obvious. And yet, that is exactly where the Scriptures point us—to this world and not waiting for the next.
So, some questions:
• Where in my life right now do I need to stop waiting upon the future and instead start embracing the present?
• How much time do I spend wishing I was somewhere else?
• What are those places and people that I am called to love right now as opposed to fantasizing about how they should be different or who else might be easier to love?
People of St. Ann, are you still looking up to heaven? It’s well past time to change that. GO, therefore and make a difference. GO, because you have been sent. Go!