Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Ascension

Today in liturgies is read the beginning of Acts, which tells the story of the Ascension. Since Easter, liturgical readings have included the resurrection appearances in the gospels. These stories gain new significance in light of contemporary resurrection appearances such as those I tell here and term “paranormal” in my blog index.

Contrary to the assumptions of our materialistic culture, the inner world regularly breaks into this surface world, assuring us that life has larger, deeper meaning than keeping up with daily duties or amassing stuff. Birth and death often call attention to the inner world. The death of the extraordinary spiritual master Jesus gave birth to the great religion of Christianity. Appropriately, his followers at the time experienced him alive and elevated to higher status. Thus the Resurrection and Ascension.

Recently I heard this startling idea: When we learn how to die, we’ll learn how to live. Fr. Roger Karban in NCR reflects similarly that Jesus “was constantly taking [his followers] beyond the things which normally occupied their everyday lives . . . [new places] often more psychological than geographic.” They expected “things outside them would change,” an apocalyptic change. Instead, they themselves were moved beyond where they had been. “Jesus’ disciples were certain about one thing: he never let them stay put.”

We all are called to move beyond where we’ve been, to be elevated, to ascend.

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