Saturday, May 31, 2014

Celebration of the Ascension of Jesus Christ

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

My work continues in Millsboro with my brother.  Please pray that he regains the strength in his body.  His muscles are so weak after so many days in bed.  We are making progress but it will take some time for him to stand for more than a few seconds.  I am back in Lanham for two days before returning to being his nurse during these days of his life and mine.


Today as we consider the Ascension of the Lord, we are given a unique moment between the day of Resurrection and Pentecost to reflect on the activities of the Apostles and other disciples. Let me suggest thinking about the time between the Ascension and Pentecost.  Contemplate with me, if you will, about what was going on in that upper room that was located "one Sabbath's day walk."  The Jewish law was that walking more than 1000-2000 yards was restricted.  However, the rabbis proposed having food to eat at the far distance and calling that spot a 'domicile.' So the frequently mentioned "upper room" must have been very close to the temple in Jerusalem.  A group of some 20 people gathered in the upper room after the Ascension event.  They were directed by the Christ to gather there in prayer.  

Try to imagine that you were able to see into that room as they prayed and shared their thoughts.  For us today, perhaps we might imagine how Peter must have felt.  Suddenly he nightly aware of his new responsibilities as he alone is now the leader of the Apostles and disciples and the growing Church.  This is Peter, the sinner.  The one who had denied he was a friend of Jesus.  This was Peter who failed to recognize Jesus on occasion.  The Peter who spoke back to Jesus who was speaking about the two faces on a coin.  Imagine how he must have felt now as all of his friends looked to him as the new leader but who also had experienced Peter's failures!

Have you ever taken on a new position in your place of employment?  If that has happened to you, how did you feel when someone may have half-heartedly teased you about the different weaknesses you had shown before your promotion!

Also in that room were the brothers, James and John.  Remember their stupidity or genuine human weakness?  "We want to sit on your right and left in your new kingdom."  And how many times have we express desires for one thing or another that we really should not have asked for.  The two brothers must have thought about that moment now that the Apostles were on their own in the new Church.

Of course Mary, his mother was there that day.  What must she have thought?  Surely she was aware the He had a very unique and singular vocation.  But how easy is it for a mother to lose her son?

About each of us?  Walk back to that upper room.  Know the others don't see you.  But listen as they talked and prayed about their future and the hope that the promised Holy Spirit would be for them.  What runs through your heart and mind as you try to imagine what it would be like to have seen Jesus taken up to heaven and you are left to be on your own?  How do you feel you have succeeded or failed in the mission God has given to you?

Again, please let us pray for each other during these days before the Holy Spirit's Pentecost is commemorated in our Church and hopefully in our lives.  What is it that the Holy Spirit is asking of you now.