Daily Reflection
May 9th, 2002
Andy Alexander, S.J. &
Maureen McCann Waldron
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office

In archdioceses and dioceses of the United States and in other parts of the world where the Feast of the Ascension is celebrated today, the following readings are used on this Thursday:
The Ascension of the Lord
Acts 1:1-11
Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Ephesians 1:17-23
Luke 24:46-53

"When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted."
                                                                           Matthew 28:16 

How human this line is, and how it captures our spirits sometimes!  Yes we believe, we can feel Jesus working in our lives, we can pray, worship and love ... and then we doubt. 

In the first reading from Acts, we watch as Jesus leaves us, his followers, as he ascends into heaven.  Those of us in his band of disciples watch from the ground below as he is slowly lifted up and away from us.  Matthew's gospel does not depict the Ascension, but as the gospel concludes, the disciples are called to the mountain, eager to meet Jesus.  They see him, worship ... and then doubt. 

And how does Jesus react to that doubt?  With an incredible and inexhaustible love for us and our failings.  He looks on us with such love -- and sends us out to do his work!  He's not waiting for us be become perfect - he send us out, doubts, fears, failings and all.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ...” He's not angry, disappointed or discouraged; he simply send us as we are.

Maybe at this moment of sending we return to doubting. What does he mean? How are we supposed to do this? Make disciples of all nations? Where do we start? What if we are rejected, challenged? Can I really do this?

Then his last words drift down to us, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  We let those words settle into our souls, we feel them, we are reassured by them.  We turn them over and over again in our hearts:  Always...Until the end of the age... I will be with you...
And for now, for the moment, we set our doubts aside and begin the task he has given us.

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In archdioceses and dioceses of the US states of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington or in parts of the world where the celebration of Ascension is transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, the following readings are used on this Thursday:

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:1-8
Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
John 16:16-20

Jesus' words are very powerful:
"You will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy."

These words of Jesus can be both discouraging and puzzling.  He speaks them at the Last Supper as he is preparing his disciples for his departure.  They will no longer walk the dusty roads with him, sit down to dinner with him, feel his comforting hand rest on their shoulder or gaze into his loving and challenging eyes. 

He tells them, “in a little while you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me...” and they ask each other what he could possibly mean.  Yes, he is preparing his disciples for his departure but more than that, he is preparing us for the times we will have a difficult time “seeing” him. 

When we are faced with pain, conflict and great loss, sometimes we can be blind to his presence in our lives.  But today Jesus tells us that we will see him again.  How can that be, if he is going to the Father?  He is telling us that we will see him again because we will one day join him there, at the side of the Father.

In the meantime, the world will be rejoicing.  We shouldn't be scandalized or discouraged by that.  No matter how much we grieve, our grief will be transformed - into joy brought on by our faith that we will see Jesus again with the Father.

This is the heart of the Good News Jesus speaks today.  We can live in this world, free from fear, free from anxiety, knowing that Jesus is present to us in this life and that we will join him at the Father's side in the life after.

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