by Paula Zwenger
The wonder continues. Confounding to some, comforting to others, Catholics are still celebrating Easter! The past six weeks we daily listened to readings from the Acts of the Apostles. We heard of the growth and witness of the early Church.
Now, we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord’s Ascension. As he left the apostles, He promised to be with them always. He promised to send an advocate to strengthen them. Imagine how they felt as they watched Him vanish. What depth of sadness touched their souls once He was out of sight? Still, they believed and rejoiced.
Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.
We can imagine on some small scale a bit of their sadness. We never grow used to saying goodbye. It never gets easier to see faces of love ones recede into the distance. Often subtle tears, added to sighs of resignation, make appearance unbidden. Yet we too, believe and rejoice.
Forty days since Easter morn, when the temple veil was torn
Jesus risen from the tomb, conquering all deathly gloom
As they watched, still some confused, He ascended in their view
on to Heaven’s watchful throne, King of Kings, our Lord alone.
Would you stare, if it was you, up and off into the blue
skies where He, who saved your soul, rose triumphant, body whole?
Still His promise fills the heart, telling why He must depart
sending One for all our days, Advocate to guide our ways.
Down to earth their gaze return, even while their hearts would burn
long with passion for His face. Soon the Spirit’s strong embrace
filled their hearts to fortify – bold inviting all nearby
“Do repent! Be baptized free. Claim as Savior – Risen HE!
Ours the graces. Ours the hope. Ours the thanks for help to cope
with our fallen nature when shriven, we arise again.
Sure our step, in world seemed lost, paying joyful any cost;
following apostles bold, bringing all to heaven’s hold.
The truth is no one knows the hour or day when he or she will be called to heaven. A relative diagnosed with cancer may well outlive a partner going to work the next day. An elderly grandparent may be scooting around long after the newest grandchild enters and exits the stage of life. What we have is this moment to live well. We also have an Advocate in the Holy Spirit. As a loving member of the Triune God, He consoles, challenges, and instructs.
Perhaps now, when smaller departures are at hand, we can simply say, “May God Bless and keep you. See you soon.” Then believe and rejoice until we are together again.
Paula Zwenger is a wife, mother, and grandmother who, upon finding herself an empty nester, tried on the hat of rhyme loving writer. It fit very well. Her joy manifests completely while taking the ups and downs of life and wrangling them into poetry. She also has a passion for creating rhymed treasure hunts with a Catholic flare to celebrate the faith and learn a thing or two along the way. You can find her musings at RhymeLovingWriter.com.