FEAST of the ASCENSION of our LORD
“What’s mine is yours; what’s yours is mine.”
This week our prayer intention is the 2021 Graduates. The Gospel is about the Commencement story for Jesus’ Apostles. It’s the same message (not the same exact words) that graduates across our country will be hearing: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the fruits of your education! Signs will accompany those who are influenced by you and your words. Be true to the ethics, the values, the attitudes that have been modeled for you. Drive out demons by refusing to be any less than you are called to be. Be sensitive to the voices that call out to you from the trenches. Lay your hands on the sick, the sorrowing, the poor; the victims of racism, inequity of services and opportunity.” Each year, we return to this story of Jesus’ ascension, we celebrate the event, and try to make meaning for our own lives. That’s what our graduates are charged with doing.
Jesus impressed upon his Apostles the same message that 2000 years later we know we can depend on. He tells us: “apart from me you can do nothing” and “I will be with you always.” He may have disappeared from sight, but he has not abandoned us. He kept assuring the Apostles that they had not imagined it – it was not a borrowed memory from someone else’s story: Jesus really had been among them and at least on two occasions he had something to eat with them. Remember, when he appeared in the upper room and asked: “Do you have anything here to eat?” And, again, on the seashore when he had breakfast already cooking for them when they hauled in that net-breaking catch of fish. This was a beautiful and very human thing to do; something that the disciples, and we, could completely relate to.
Among Jesus’ last words on this earth, is a powerful lesson in mutual sharing. It sounds a bit like ‘What’s mine is yours; what’s yours is mine.’ We hear Jesus say: “Everything that the Father has, is mine. When the Spirit comes, he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” And, what is declared? “Peace I give you; my peace I leave with you.” Jesus wanted his disciples, He wants us, to understand, for all time, that the purpose of his life on earth, why he had to suffer and die the way he did – was all part of God’s plan. Jesus wants to impress upon us, that there is a lot of work to be done and not to worry if things aren’t always easy.
He has commissioned us, all his followers, to a life of service. In Jesus we are we empowered to do what He himself did. He sends us out to preach, to heal, and to drive out unclean spirits. Jesus continues to help us as we try to live as his followers – to call on our reserves of resiliency, holy dependence, and firm trust.
We recall that when Jesus was buried it was women who solemnly formed a funeral procession to the newly hewn grave. They anointed Jesus’ body with the customary herbs and spices that filled the walk-in tomb, and the surrounding air, with a pungent perfume that lingers on, even to this day’s atmosphere. You know that sensation you get in the chapel or our community room or a public elevator. Someone walks in and almost immediately thinks or remarks that someone must have Vicks cough drops. Or looks around wondering who’s been in the company of a smoker. Or asks who has on scented hand lotion. Or wrinkles her nose in puzzlement trying to figure out just what is that scent? For now, we turn in all directions to detect and track the aroma of the One who continues to guide us; leading us forward into unknown places, ministries, services. It’s that familiar fragrance we follow that leads us to Jesus. One day it will lead us to our eternal home with Him. Even before we’re fully aware we’re in his presence, we’ll have found Him. Like Mary Magdalene on Jesus’ resurrection morn, we’ll hear Him speak our name.
[“Perfume” imagery borrowed from article on GlobalSisters.org]
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB