Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ascension Thursday’

DD1FEE88-2C87-4067-8822-403D8D2420AF

Hold Your Questions Until After the Ascension

Despite all the subtle hints that Jesus gave to his disciples, they were completely taken aback by his return to the Father.  Perhaps it’s just as well that they didn’t see it coming.  Had they known, they likely would have drawn up scrolls and scrolls of questions for which they wanted answers.  But there simply was no time for that sort of thing.

Whatever else there is to say about Jesus, he was definitely not a micromanager.  After all, many of his parables seemed more like riddles;  and the wisdom he imparted to his disciples tended to create as many questions as answers.  That, it seems to me, is precisely what Jesus intended to do.

BA6E5A56-D682-41A6-9AF5-EDA77EAA530EPerhaps a comparison between the Commandments and the Beatitudes sheds some light on this.  The Ten Commandments are quite specific.  It is wrong to kill;  wrong to commit adultery;  wrong to worship other gods.  By contrast the Beatitudes don’t even come packaged in command form.  They’re more like nuggets of wisdom.  “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  “Blessed are those who mourn.”  Therein lies the quandary.  At the end of the day you pretty much know whether you’ve killed somebody or not.  But how sure can you be that you gave peacemaking an honest effort?

Jesus made that point throughout his teaching.  Again and again he stressed that God prefers a pure heart rather than birds and bullocks sliced open on an altar.  God also prefers a self-examined life over pretty much anything else.  Perhaps, then, that explains why Jesus made a surprise exit before the disciples could pin him down with all sorts of questions that required yes or no for an answer.

In four days we celebrate the Ascension, and perhaps what we should celebrate most of all was the decision Jesus made not to leave us with a block-long scroll of non-negotiable demands.  Far from it, and for very good reason.  Jesus didn’t answer all the questions before the Ascension because he expects us to ask them after the Ascension.

So the next time we wonder what God means for us to do with our lives, we might do what Jesus did when he was in a tight spot:  pray about it.  It’s certainly what the disciples started to do after the Ascension.

B1687FBF-A851-4B59-B3BE-35A547415094NOTES

+On May 23nd I made a brief trip to Long Island to give a talk on The Saint John’s Bible at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, NY.  I’d seen the church from the outside but had never been inside.  It’s an imposing gothic presence on a handsome site in the center of town.  The interior is equally beautiful.  While there I was surprised to discover that a friend and former history colleague of mine from Saint John’s University is now an assistant bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island.  Before his retirement Bishop Bill Franklin served as Episcopal bishop of western New York.

+On May 25th Saint John’s Preparatory School celebrated graduation with commencement in the abbey church.  Presiding was Fr. Jonathan Licari, who is retiring after serving as head of school for several years.  However, monks never really retire, and this fall he will continue as a faculty resident in one of the residence halls of the University.

+I received several intriguing messages in response to last week’s post about my travels through Milan, Montevideo and Nassau.  My friend Don, who used to live in Austin, MN, wrote to describe one of his favorite bike rides.  He would start out in Austin, bike to London, and after breezing through Moscow he would finish in Austin, for a total of 35 miles.  That prompted my own questions about New London, MN, which is forty miles from Saint John’s.  Is it named for London, MN?  Or London UK?  Or New London, CT?  I’m sure someone knows the answer to that.

Long-time friend Jon wrote to describe a drive from Quincy, IL, to St. Louis.  En route he passed through Payson, IL, which he found “disappointingly rural given the august name” — Payson happens to be his surname.  From there he went through Mexico, Poland and Russia — all in the space of one day.

+The photos in today’s post show a fantastic reredos in the cathedral of Toledo in Spain.  When I saw it three years ago I was mesmerized by the depiction of the Ascension, which I have placed at the head of the post.  All the same I do not believe that it definitively answers the question of whether we will need shoes in heaven.

4E8A40B1-12FD-4A5D-9789-A202CF4F37CF

Read Full Post »