Ascension

Pascha: Ascension
2017 – Cycle A
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20

I expect we’ve all been frustrated with a person who doesn’t understand what we are trying to convey or teach them.  It seems easy and simple to us so why can’t they get it!  Frustration enters in when we can’t imagine that maybe we are not clear in our explanations or this person’s experience doesn’t correspond to our examples.

Frustration is one of the many moods we overlook that Jesus often experiences.  How often he seems to want to pull his hair out.

  • “Have I been with you for so long and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seem me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” [John 14:9]
  • ““The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. He began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”  But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.”   [Mark 9:31-34]

Jesus spends his public life instructing his disciples by word and example about the Kingdom of God and the disciples never seem to get it.  They have experienced hope and then the deep sadness and disappointment at his death.  Now he is alive to them in a new way and yet today they still ask Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 

They never seem to understand that the Kingdom of God is not a political entity or event.  They continue to be shortsighted.  And at this final juncture they do not grasp the big picture of what Jesus had tried to teach them.

Do we understand any better than the disciples what Jesus was trying to teach us?

How limited are we in understanding what the kingdom of God is, means?

How many of us equate the Kingdom of God with something of lesser value?

Jesus’ response is curt, “It is not for you to know…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.”   Through the media or simply walking down the street we are witnesses to many events; mundane, serious, frightening and unusual.  To be a witness is to testify to what we have seen though we may not understand the full implications of what we have seen.  A best man and a maid of honour witness a marriage.  They can testify that it took place.  They cannot testify as to what is in the hearts of the bride and groom as they give voice to their vows.

Is it not curious then that Jesus uses edgy legal language to describe the life of the Church?  The Holy Spirit is a Paraclete, an Advocate, a defense lawyer.  We are called to be witnesses.  A trail of sorts is being conducted.  The world is on trial.  And are we aware of the presence of God in our midst and do we bear witness to that presence or are we just standing looking up at the sky?  Do we tell others of God’s goodness often quietly being accomplished around us so that others might believe?  Are we convincing in our testimony?

 

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