To ascend or not to ascend...

Sometimes liturgical calendars get confusing.

Take today, for instance. I'm in Michigan for a conference (the world's largest gathering of medievalists...but that's a story for another blog). Today, this diocese is celebrating the Ascension of Jesus to the Father.

However, I live in St. Louis, which will celebrate that feast on Sunday, and I'll be back home by then. So, do I celebrate the Ascension twice???

My answer: no. Today I'll celebrate the "in a little while." As in, "in a little while" Jesus will ascend to the Father; in a little while, the Spirit will come upon the disciples. Please wait, he tells us in today's Gospel. I listened to the Jesuit "pray as you go" podcast for today, and they point out that in today's Gospel (the one for those not celebrating the Ascension), the phrase "in a little while" is repeated seven times. Seven times! We are supposed to wait, to be patient. And Jesus knows that we're not always so good at waiting--why else would he say it seven times?

There's more that touches me in today's Gospel passage. At the end, Jesus says to his followers, "Amen, amen I say to you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy." (This all comes from John 16.)

Often in our lives, we feel isolated from others. Imagine what it's like to be mourning while the world has no idea what's in your heart. In fact, don't just imagine, but remember what it was like for you when that was part of your life--when you lost someone you love, or experienced illness or depression. It can be so isolating to feel those things when the people around you seem to be going on with normal living. Of course, this is part of human life--we have a whole interior world that's not known to the people around us. *Unless we let others in.* That's so important: when we let others into our lives and our pain, the isolation of mourning while the world rejoices is removed, and we are consoled.

We look for consolation in these days, and Jesus tells us that we must wait for it, for "a little while." The Consoler is coming, and Jesus' disciples will not be alone for long. Pentecost is just around the corner.

I think this post is a little more rambling than I intended it to be! But the readings for today (even the not-Ascension readings) hold beauty and touch things I need to remember these days.


Helen said…
I loved the fact that the phrase "a little while" is repeated seven times! I was not aware of it, but the older I get the more time flies!

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