“While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” (Acts 1:10-11)
What an amazing two weeks we’ve had here in our parish! Since the beginning of the month, we’ve had First Communions, a magnificent concert, a myriad of school events, a Confirmation Retreat, and of course the ordinations and First Mass last week. Everyone around here from the pastor on down has been running at 100 mph moving from one thing to the next. Then yesterday afternoon after 2 First Communion Masses and a wedding, at least for me, everything stopped. I didn’t have any evening Masses. I had nothing on my schedule. I was in my residence and thought, “well what do I do now?” So I went over to the chapel and started praying about today’s feast of the Ascension and thinking about the apostles. They spent three years with Jesus. Then they spent 40 days with the Risen Lord listening to him, starting to understand the things he taught and the things he did. He was always with them and then after three years and 40 days, he went back to the Father. They kept looking towards the sky but he wasn’t there. The earthly ministry of Jesus, the going from town to town with him, the feasts with him, all the things they did with him were now over. What now?
What I did last night is sort of what the apostles did after the Ascension. They went back to the Upper Room to pray. The same place where Jesus gave them his Body and Blood, washed their feet, and appeared to them on Easter. The two verses that immediately follow today’s first reading say: “When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers (Acts 1:13-14).” They were waiting and praying for coming the Holy Spirit which we will celebrate next week on Pentecost Sunday.
So what does this mean for all of us? I know many of you are listening to me (or reading this) and thinking, “Father, I don’t have free time with my job and children. I don’t remember the last time I found myself with nothing to do and asking myself `what now?’” That’s a fair question, but Jesus lays out the challenge of today’s feast for us in the gospel when he instructs the disciples to go preach the gospel. We may not have free time with nothing to do, but we always have time to live out the gospel and to preach it through our words and actions. We may be living a hectic life, but we still need to make time to slow down to catch our breath and reconnect ourselves with our Lord in prayer. You see, this time that the disciples had between Ascension and Pentecost was a blessed time in which they were together with our Blessed Mother in prayer waiting for the Holy Spirit because after Pentecost…BANG!...off they went, Sprit-driven, to do what Jesus commanded which was to preach the gospel to every creature. Jesus was no longer physically with them, but he promised the presence of the Spirit. So I invite you over the next week, to slow down at some point, and pray for the coming of the Spirit just as the apostles and Mary did in that Upper Room. Pray that the Spirit may enlighten you and show you clearly what the will of God is in your life. It’s ok to look up in the sky every now and then to recognize that God is up there looking down at us, but eventually, like the apostles, we have to stop gazing at the clouds and realize that we got a whole world to evangelize.