Friday, 22 May 2020

Ascension II

If we think about the Ascension from the point of view of the Apostles, then one of the words that comes to mind is 'separation'.  They had already felt the pain of separation the first time on Good Friday. For Peter it was all too much as he caved in under pressure, denied he even knew Jesus, and then cried his eyes out in the streets of Jerusalem (right). This was then replaced with the joy of Easter, as they welcomed Our Lord into their midst, gave him fish to eat and enjoyed a fish breakfast that he had cooked for them on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. But now they had to handle a second separation, and this time it was more emphatic as Jesus 'was lifted up', and left their sight.

We are used to handling separations in life. We know the kids will have to go off to school, then leave home, perhaps move away, even across the world. We know that relationships sometimes fail and lead to separation. And we even know that death awaits at some point. These are all painful, but perhaps it's helped a little by the fact that that we are indeed aware, as we say, that 'these things happen'.

That's what's different about this virus problem. We are not used to this degree of separation, within families, work, leisure... church. I find those pictures of mums or dads working in vulnerable situations who cannot kiss and hug their kids very moving. The desire to establish new ways of communication, especially via the internet, is fascinating and  a real blessing. We only started streaming Sunday Mass at St Brigid this week, but already that video has been seen about 550 times.

The separation of the Ascension was difficult, but 10 days later, at Pentecost, we, the Church, would start the task of living new ways of togetherness, together with Jesus, together with one another. People are telling me how much they miss the Mass. And it's not just the sacrament of Communion with Jesus that they are missing. They are missing one another, the community, the fellowship, call it what you will. Oh yes, Jesus knew exactly what he was doing in instituting the Eucharist. Its grace and power enable us to express, to put into words and actions, our needs for God and one another, until that day when we arrive at the place where there is absolutely no separation - at all, ever     

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