A Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter – The Ascension, May 29, 2022
Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
When meditating on the Ascension, it always strikes me that the disciples remain staring at the sky after watching Jesus being lifted away on a cloud into the sky, lingering in the moment. It takes two angels to bring them out of their stupor and ask them what they are doing, “standing there looking at the sky?” It reminds me of saying goodbye to someone and watching them drive away until their car disappears from view. It is a melancholy moment because that person will no longer be with you. Yet, somehow, hope remains – hope that this is just a temporary state, and you will indeed see that person again in the future and experience the joy of reunion.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with savoring that somber moment. However, the temptation to stay in that moment, without keeping in mind the hope that a reunion will occur someday, is all too real.
Growing up with a sibling or eight, I had my fair share of goodbyes. I still recall the pain of watching each brother and sister leave our home for college. It seems silly now and perhaps overdramatic, but my young self could not help but mourn their leaving. So many questions came to mind – what would I do without them? What would life be like? Will they be okay? Will I be okay without their daily presence? Some nights I indulged myself in missing them so much that it brought pain to my heart and tears to my eyes. What I could not see then were the joyful reunions that would take place in the coming months and years. It gave me room and opportunity to try things on my own without hiding behind them for protection. And quite frankly, relieve them of that duty, as well. And they were not departing with the sole purpose of leaving me. They had to go because that was the next necessary step in their journeys. It was what they were supposed to do – their purpose.
As I place myself in the disciples’ position, I imagine them watching Jesus ascend into Heaven, feeling a mix of awe, wonder, and perhaps a bit of sadness in seeing Him leave them. But, they don’t have much time to stay in this moment, as the angels appear to inform them that Jesus will “return in the same way as [they] have seen him going into Heaven.” Acts 1:11. The disciples instantly know that His return will happen, and hope returns. They worship Jesus and go back to Jerusalem “with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:52-53.
Even more wonderful to imagine, I think, would be the jubilant reunion that occurred when Jesus returned to Heaven, to his Father and the heavenly host. And as for me, I still say goodbyes from time to time, but I know hope is always in the mix. And I now live within forty minutes of all eight of my siblings.
Author: Katy Mauer Cabrera