Dear Parishioners & Visitors,
Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? -Acts 1 :11
This question was asked of the apostles while they were looking at Jesus going up to the sky. The apostles were in awe and at the same time puzzled by this event. What is it about looking to the sky that leads us to awe and wonder? Remember the last time you looked at the sky. Especially here in Texas, looking to the sky can be an amazing experience. It gives us a sense of infinity, peace, and beauty. In a word, it gives a sense of eternity. Like the apostles, we enjoy looking at the sky but we know we need to go back to the world. This is precisely why they were asked "why are you standing there looking at the sky".
In this event, the identity of Jesus is reaffirmed once again. It recounts how the same Jesus who suffered, died, and rose, is the same one who was ascending to his Father. At the same time, the promise of the Holy Spirit is recalled for them to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God. The apostles are not going with him but Jesus is returning by giving them the Holy Spirit so they can continue doing God's work on earth. It is not the time for the apostles to go but to stay and continue their mission.
The fulfillment of the mission by the disciples is an essential part for them to enter into what they are seeing while they are looking at the sky: eternity. It is very clear that to enter the Kingdom of God temporality and eternity belong to each other. They are necessary to each other. While looking at the sky, where we get a sense of the Glory of God, it is important not just to remain standing but to remember why we are standing there. We are invited not to forget that we are in the world and that we have a mission, the mission to allow Jesus to return day in and day out through the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit, the same Spirit of Jesus, empowers us with his gifts of wisdom, understanding, strength, knowledge, and of fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
On this feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we are allowed to glimpse the Glory of God. In the meantime, while we stand on this earth, we are called to fulfill the mission the Lord has entrusted to us. It is in this fulfilling of the mission that Jesus returns to us. Also, it is in fulfilling this mission that we ascend with Jesus to eternity. We could say then, that Jesus returns so we can ascend!
-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.