Ascension SundayJune 5, 2011
TRAVELING BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH
In Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict XVI gives us a vivid lesson on the Ascension:
‘Because Jesus is with the Father, he has not gone away but remains close to us. Now he is no longer in one particular place in the world as he had been before the ‘Ascension’: now, through his power over space, he is present and accessible to all — throughout history and in every place. There is a very beautiful story in the Gospel where Jesus anticipates this kind of closeness during his earthly life and so makes it easier for us to understand.
After the multiplication of the loaves, the Lord makes the disciples get into the boat and go before him to Bethsaida on the opposite shore, while he himself dismisses the people. He then goes ‘up on the mountain’ to pray. So the disciples are alone in the boat. There is a headwind, and the lake is turbulent. They are threatened by the power of the waves and the storm. The Lord seems to be far away in prayer on his mountain. But because he is with the Father, he sees them. And because he sees them, he comes to them across the water; he gets into the boat with them and makes it possible for them to continue to their destination.
This is an image for the time of the Church — intended also for us. The Lord is ‘on the mountain’ of the Father. Therefore he sees us. Therefore he can get into the boat of our life at any moment. Therefore we can always call on him; we can always be certain that he sees and hears us. In our own day, too, the boat of the Church travels against the headwind of history through the turbulent ocean of time. Often it looks as if it is bound to sink. But the Lord is there, and he comes at the right moment. ‘I go away, and I will come to you’ — that is the essence of Christian trust, the reason for our joy.’
And so here we are on the ocean – perhaps the one place on our planet where we can so clearly see the place where heaven and earth touch. But there is another place – this parish. This is the Eucharist.
CLICK HERE for the Readings for Ascension Sunday: (Acts 1.1-11; Ephesians 1.17-23; Matthew 28.16-20)