Confused. They had to be confused. The followers of Jesus must have stood there on that mountain, thoroughly and completely perplexed. Jesus gives them their instructions, to go forth and make disciples of all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then he says, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Then he leaves! He ascends into the heavens until the clouds remove him from sight. They must have wondered, as they stared into the sky, how can he be with them always, he just left! I’m just not sure if they got what Jesus meant when he told them the Holy Spirit would come to them. I’m not sure they understood that the Spirit would enable them to be Christ’s witnesses to the world. I’m not sure they realized that Christ would indeed be with them, through the Spirit sent to guide them, to give them understanding, and strength. They did as Jesus asked and returned to Jerusalem to wait. I’m just not sure they got it. I’m sure they much would have preferred that Jesus not leave at all. They simply didn’t understand. I’m not sure we understand either, and we really don’t have any excuses. For the first followers of Jesus, at least this was all new. It is not for us. We know what we are called to do. We know that we are to be Christ’s witnesses in the world. We know that we are called to love, everyone, the lovable and the unlovable alike. We have the Spirit those early followers were waiting for, yet we hide, as they did, as though we have no help available to us to follow our call. Perhaps we are frightened, or too much concerned with what the world will think of us. The world beckons, calling us to return evil for evil, not good for evil as we are called to do. We are indeed called to be counter-cultural, to go against the popular wisdom, to instead listen to the call of Christ. Following Christ is a way of life, a way of being. It is not a popularity contest. Yet when we struggle to really live our faith, we find that we may attract more people than we think. One of the most popular, and well-loved people of our time is Mother Teresa, a person who was certainly not in line with modern culture. Yet people are fascinated by her. For some it is mere curiosity, but for others it is a demonstration that life can be different. Can we all be Mother Teresa? Perhaps not. But we can all listen to the one who called her, for we all have that same Spirit that guided her. It’s time to get ready and leave the room.
The Ascension of the Lord
May 4, 2008