MEDITATION ON THE ASCENSION: WHY CAN’T YOU STAY? …a repeat

WHY CAN’T YOU STAY?

I don’t know about you, but I often wish that Jesus was still among us, that he had not ascended,  and that I could see Him and talk to Him.  It would simplify a lot of things: He would be here to explain exactly what He meant about this or that, He could, if he wished, solve world crises, He could, if He wished, cure all sickness, eliminate all violence, and bring heavenly peace to the world…

That’s not the way it happened however.  After His Resurrection, He appeared to various people and groups, and, as Paul points out, even when He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once [1Cor 15:6], it was always “at one time.” His appearances were temporal, i.e. within time and space, one at a time, as Paul again testified: after that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. I am not saying that He could not, had He wished, bi- or multi-located simultaneously, but to validate His true human Resurrection in a single human body, He demonstrated his presence by enjoying fish with His apostles at least twice [Lk 24:43; Jn 21:15] and by showing his disciples his hands and his feet [Lk 24:39-40] and by having Thomas put his finger in the holes in his hand and his hand in the hole in his side [Jn 20:27],and by appearing in only one place at one time.

But then I begin thinking about it and that wouldn’t have been such a good idea.  Why didn’t He remain on earth, which He could have done, I was consider what that would have meant.  It certainly would have had a negative impact: (a) if He continued His single place at a single time, He would either have had to stay in one place, in which case, the world would be on pilgrimage to Him, the place would have been totally mobbed, and no matter how many Trinitron huge screens they set up, it would not have been enough; (b) if he did appear from place to place, he would have, perforce, been distanced from at least most of His followers all the time, especially those who were too poor to make the trip, but these were the very people with whom He identified; (c) He would be able to show the common touch to each “lucky” soul only every once in a while, having to make the entire circuit of the world; meanwhile the rest of humanity longed for his comforting; (d) while, because of His resurrected status, He himself would be immune from assassins, the ire of his opponents would have been turned on His followers even more ferociously than has happened.   And I am not even taking into consideration the historical, political and social ramifications, all of which would have been significantly impacted by His presence and periodic appearances.

The spiritual ramifications would have been even more devastating.  The value of the Eucharist, His Divine and human presence in our midst, would have been undermined… “if we can see him in person, isn’t that better than His Body and Blood in transformed Bread and Wine?” The only sacred place on earth would be where He was at that particular time.  Reconciliations through priests would be considered at least second rate in comparison with a one-on-one with Jesus.  How could 1 billion people share a meal…we couldn’t even get to the same place, the same table, at the same time.  Would He have had to devote Himself to “running” the Church…and, if He continually sent out new disciples to minister to His people, they would have been considered inferior to seeing “The God/Man” in person.  Contemplation would loose its efficacy; it would be considered much better to be physically in His presence.  In essence, His whole emphasis on the worship of the Father through Him would have given way to the misplaced human idolatry of Him by the paparazzi on earth, with little or no thought to the inevitability of the eschatological heavenly Kingdom, let alone the innate purpose here on earth of each to praise, reverence and serve God, loving Him with our whole heart, our whole mind, all our strength and all our soul.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter: Pentecost Eve

And now we wait. “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5   “Not many days from now” is a very fluid, indefinite time.

Jesus gave us a model of waiting; “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” Lk 2: 51-52. Again, “My hour has not yet come.” Jn 2:4 The hidden life…20 years from age 12-32….a carpenter/builder/mason in a rustic, unimportant village of Nazareth. 7300 days of ordinary life when he knew in his heart: “I must be in my Father’s house?”

The disciples, Apostles and Mary have waited 9 days thus far, “devoting themselves to prayer,” “continually in the temple praising God.”

On the 40th day, reminding us of the year the Jews finally past into the promised land, Jesus ascended into the true promised land, the first born from the dead. Now we approach the 50th day, the day the Lord declared holy: “Then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.” Lev 23:16. The harvest of the Kingdom has begun. The first grain offerings, the 120 gathered in the upper room, is ripe and ready to be an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. And the world had descended on Jerusalem for the feast, and 3000 of them were ready for the harvest. Acts 2:41 And each one shall heard them speaking, God’s Call, in his own language. Acts 2:6,8

All this when the Hour of the Church has come! And the Church shall burst forth, never to be hidden again…the Treasure is found, the Pearl is opened. Mt 13:44-45

But today, an echo of Holy Saturday, we wait in silent expectation, even without breathing, in hopes of hearing His coming. Patience. “A thousand years in your eyes are merely a day gone by.” Ps 90:4. The clock has changed, we are all operating on God’s time now….Amen. Alleluia.