The Ascension of the Lord - Waiting for the Spirit

During these weeks between Easter and Pentecost we have a chance to reflect more deeply on the difference Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension make on our lives.  We read from the Book of Acts to see how the early church struggled and survived during its first critical days.  This early Christian community was mission-minded, wanting to go out immediately to tell others the good news.  But Acts begins with a strange message by the risen Christ to his disciples.  He tells them to wait. 

They had gone through some tough times.  They watched their Lord and Master betrayed, arrested and executed.  This brought them to the edge of despair.  They had heard from others that He indeed had risen, but still they doubted and were afraid.  Then, finally, they experienced His risen presence for themselves in utter joy.  They felt that they were now ready to get on with the business of proclaiming the Good News. 

Instead they are told to "wait for the promise of the Father."  This  had to be another upheaval of emotions for the disciples. 

Truth be told, the disciples really weren't ready to go off spreading the news of his resurrection.  The disciples are told to stop a moment, take a breath, and wait for God's promise to be fulfilled.  That's a difficult lesson to learn.  God's promise will come at God's timing and not one's own.  They need to break free of their limited view, their prejudices and their tendency to misinterpret the meaning of Jesus'  life.  For all of this to happen they will need help. They must acknowledge their dependence on God (and one another) and wait patiently and hopefully.  Waiting for the Spirit is a reversal of their usual mode of operating. 

We too are to be witnesses to Jesus by the integrity of our lives and the commitment to his Gospel.  And like the first disciples, we too need to wait for the gift of the Spirit who will always sustain us when the going gets rough.

The Ascension sounds like a conclusion and in some ways it is. It ends one way the disciples have come to know Jesus. But the Ascension is also a bridge to another, new and surprising way that the disciples will come to know Jesus. This new experience of his life with them will be known by the presence and activity of the Spirit in their lives. The Ascension is an in-between time, when one period is ending and a new one is about to begin. But not quite yet.

We need not be afraid to wait. The Lord has promised to send his Spirit who will guide us into the Truth. Whatever conflicts we may encounter along the way, we can be sure that the Spirit is in each of us, leading us together into the truth. This will not be easy. Sometimes it will be painful. But if we let ourseves be guided by the Spirit of Truth we shall be led a little deeper into the mystery of divine love and experience the joy of the Gospel burning within us. The Ascension story is a mission given to us. Pentecost is our rebirth in the Spirit.

This is the driving force behind all of our activity.