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Solemnity of the Ascension

Saint for the day: St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444

Readings for today's liturgy:

Acts 1:1-11

Psalm 47

Ephesians 4:1-13

Mark 16:15-20 

“Why do you stand here looking up to the sky?...”

The answer to this question seems to be wrapped up in the notion of letting go. Or, as the great American radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey would say as he finished one story and was about to move on to the next: “Page …two…” with a slight upbeat to the “two.”

Today’s feast of the Ascension marks a significant turning point in the life of the early Church. As Jesus told them, “Unless I return to the Father the Holy Spirit (the Creator and re-newer of life) will not come!”

But most of us don’t like that notion. We want things to stay as they were. We don’t like having to “step out” in faith. We’re just like the Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration, “Lord, it’s good that we are here. Let us build a monument(out of solid stone) to keep you here.”  My one loose translation. But the bottom line message of Jesus is, “Go out to the ends of the world and tell them of this good news: I have conquered sin and death…”

The problem that we face is that we simply don’t have the proper words to describe Heaven. In the movie, “Charlie St. Cloud” the story tells of Charlie, a teenager, and his younger brother who are involved in a tragic automobile accident. The younger brother dies but the older brother is revived and lives. Yet, he has experienced something of life “on the other side” and he gets to see his younger brother almost every day. Finally, the younger brother comes and Charlie can’t see him and he is told, “Charlie, I’m on my way. You can’t see me because you simply couldn’t comprehend what I really look like. Don’t just stay here waiting … go on with your life.”

If you haven’t seen this move, check it out. It’s a great way to help you understand today’s feast.

In the end, Charlie “goes on” with his life with a new sense of purpose. He “goes back on the road…” just like all of us have to do. “Lord, it is good to be here but we’ve got much to do and we’re going out on the road!” After all, “It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven!” Amen!


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