One of the things we should keep in mind when dealing with today’s scripture is that we really can’t take Luke’s words literally; Jesus being lifted up into the clouds, no longer visible to the apostle’s sight is Luke’s way of describing in symbolic and poetic language how the relationship of the apostles with Jesus changed. Jesus will no longer be physically present to them but his relationship would be far deeper than in the past. They would be challenged, as we all are, to trust the reality of His presence to us every day of our lives in and through the Spirit He would send, “I am with you always, to the end of time.”
In our personal times of happiness and joy, in our personal times of desperation, confusion or grief, no matter how alone we may feel the truth of the matter is, we are never alone. “I am with you always.”
It’s very much like when someone we dearly love dies. They are no long physically present to us but we know they are with us in and through the life and love we’ve shared over the years. Death does not break the bonds of love we’ve forged over the years. Those we loved and loved us will always be part of our lives.
We are not meant to get caught up looking up into the sky at a disappearing Jesus. The most important aspect of this feast is the command of Jesus – ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’
This is Communication Sunday. We are all meant to be communicators of the good news of God’s love for all of us, a love manifested and proven in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Our place is not meant to be on a mountain looking up; we are meant to be on the road sharing with all we meet the love God had for each of us, friend or stranger. Each one of us has a mission. Our faith in Jesus Christ, a gift given to us in baptism and nurtured through family, church and school, is not just about keeping us from sin and it’s not just about our own one on one relationship with Jesus. Each one of us is called to take His place in this world – as you’ve heard so many times before, we are meant to be His voice, His eyes, His ears, His hands and feet. Each one of us is meant to share His good news with others – to make a real difference. We are meant to be communicators of His good news that every person is precious and loved by Christ, redeemed by His blood, healed by His wounds, enlivened by His death.
There was a famous line in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” when the prison warden says to Luke who kept escaping from prison, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Do we have a failure to communicate? How different are our lives and values from those of friends and neighbours and co-workers who never darken the doors of a church and live their lives as if God did not exist? We’ve all met people from different Christian churches that are almost ‘in your face’ with the enthusiasm they have for their faith. Most of us are not that way. We are not used to their ‘God talk’. Are we are too private about our faith and what it means to us? Are we are too reticent to talk about what our faith means to us, too silent about how our faith in Jesus has seen us through the hard times in our lives. As I said, it’s just not our Catholic way. But is this is a weakness on our part? Do we have a failure to communicate? There is that old question, ‘if you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Would we be any different from all those others in the line up?’
Could each one of us hear in a new way our constant petition in our weekly prayer of the faithful: may we live this Mass outside these walls in the lives we live, the work we do, the service we give and the prayers we pray? Could each one of us ask the question, ‘do I have a failure to communicate my faith in Jesus Christ in the life I live, the work I do, the service I give and the prayers I pray?’
I love using that quote from St. Francis of Assisi; ‘preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.’
As we continue this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we be good communicators of our faith in Jesus Christ, Who loved us and gave His life for us, doing this outside these walls, in the lives we live, the work we do, the service we give and the prayers we pray.