The disciples were maybe just a little freaked out when Jesus ascended to heaven before their very eyes, and justifiably so, don’t you think? It may be that Psalm 27 came to mind: God mounts his throne to shouts of joy… but one suspects the apostles’ mouths were simply gaping open in concern as Jesus was taken up from their sight. Note the question of the men in white standing nearby: Why are you standing there looking at the sky? Were the disciples really expecting this? Now what?
Jesus is gone, ascended to heaven, but he has promised to send his Spirit to them. In this Sunday's reading from Acts, we learn that Jesus spoke at length to the apostles about the kingdom of God before his Ascension. He had already taught them to pray, Thy kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven. On earth, not just in heaven. Wait, what's that about? Well, first, the disciples know – as should we – that, as king over all the earth, Jesus remains engaged with all of us, in the here and now, so long as we open our hearts to his presence there, to the presence of the Spirit, allowing God to rule over our hearts. Then we can know him, and know his kingdom, as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation opens us to embrace the world in which we live and to reveal God’s love to that world. We can work to be be that kingdom.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, Paul writes in Ephesians. Meaning: may your hearts be involved in the world around you, so that the Church, a community of believers, may in turn be the heart of God’s kingdom on earth. Through our common identity and union in Christ, we as a Church are charged with a mission, namely, to make Christ present to the world by allowing God to work in us, just as he promises the disciples in our Gospel from Matthew: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, [for] I am with you always… One in Christ, they are to baptize, preach, and teach – and so are we. Offering us his infinite love, the surpassing greatness of his power, God can accomplish miracles through us for the good of the kingdom.
It’s time to get grounded, to take our eyes from the sky, and get to work!
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.