The celebration of The Ascension moves us from passively waiting for Jesus to come fix things to becoming witnesses confident in God’s presence in us. We are in this Eucharist commissioned and sent first for our baptismal responsibility to actively participate in the work of the Holy Spirit.
What do we do with a dead Savior? Why do we focus our attention today on suffering and a torturous execution at the hands of a corrupt religious institution, a fearful politician, an erratic and deceptive local government complete with crowd hysteria, all in the midst of one of the most glorious and sophisticated empires the world has ever known?
We find in the scriptures appointed for this day three mandates. In Exodus, concerning the Passover, the Israelites are told “You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord.” In I Corinthians, Paul, recounting the events of the meal on the night Jesus was betrayed, passes on Jesus’ words, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
I guess it is my own humanity which wants to believe that Mary’s troubled pondering lasted more than the seconds it takes to read of it. Discernment of God’s call on one’s life, especially when it is transformative and involves a complete redirection, takes time in prayer that comes out of a deep grounding and preparation. It reminds me of other’s acts of obedience in the biblical witness such as of Abraham and Sarah. In modern times we might think of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, or Archbishop Oscar Romero.