Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
I think this reflection by Father Donagh O’Shea O.P. of the Dominican Retreat Centre, Tallaght Village, Dublin, is a great insight into the Ascension of the Lord. I edited a bit with apologies to Fr. Donagh. Here he is.

The Ascension... is not mentioned at all in Matthew’s or in John's gospels. Mark mentions it, but... almost certainly relies on Luke’s account. Luke is the specialist, giving two accounts of it: in his gospel, and in the Acts of the Apostles.

How should we understand the ascension? There is often something rather forlorn about leave-taking, and the Ascension is a leave-taking. Yet this one seems different: “they returned to Jerusalem with great joy....”

You might take leave of an enemy but how can you take leave of a beloved friend with joy?

It is true that John’s gospel does not mention the Ascension, but in John's account of the Last Supper Jesus makes this paradoxical statement: “I am going away, and I am coming to you” (John 14:28). How do we understand this?
“I am going away, and I am coming to you.” The paradox stops us in our tracks. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Too often we jump to conclusions. That paradoxical statement makes us think about ‘presence’: what the word means for us.

Seeing is really no guarantee of presence. If you doubt this, just think of the last person who looked right through you without seeing you. Many people looked right through Jesus. And many tried to look right through him - which is a way of wishing him absent.

Seeing is capable of being a kind of presence, but that is all. Today our minds have become attuned to television; we want to ‘see’ everything. Yet, because television carries so much fictional material, when it portrays reality, reality becomes fictionalized.

A phenomenon of our age is the number of actors who have become politicians. The distinction between dreaming and waking is no longer so clear. We are increasingly conscious that ‘The News’ is never actually neutral; it is somebody’s comment on what has happened. When you can move, within seconds, from witnessing an unspeakable tragedy to hearing the sports results, nothing seems quite real anymore. Reality and entertainment are no longer separate categories. Seeing is no longer believing.

Jesus says he is going away and simultaneously coming. His going away is not purely and simply a separation; it is in some sense a coming nearer. How are we to approach this?

Every day we casually meet and part with many people, and for the most part it doesn’t churn up any deep feelings in us. But when we part with someone we love, that person somehow becomes spiritually all the more present. Their very absence makes them more present in our spirit.

It often happens that we appreciate someone only when they have gone away. When they were present every day, we hardly noticed them, or what we noticed were insignificant passing details. But when they have gone away, we see them whole. ‘Not seeing’ may be closer than seeing.

Love is not a slave to appearances; it does not cling to the thoughts and images by which we try to master one another. It sets the other free, and it can see the other in the invisible. Jesus is more present, not less, in being ascended to the Father.”

My take is that the more you see something the more you confine it to a place. Now Jesus is everywhere precisely because I don’t see Him; I believe in Him. Happy Ascension!

In our Risen Savior,
sign frjim
PS Happy Birthday, Patty

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