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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Those Annoying Men in White

A brief reflection for the Feast of the Ascension:

You’ve no doubt heard of the “Men in Black,” that elite team that saves the world from aliens. But in today’s readings we hear not from them, but from the men in white, or as the beginning of the chapter from where today’s Gospel reading is taken has it, the men in “dazzling garments.” The men in white ask annoying questions. In the last chapter of Luke, they ask the shocked women who have arrived to find Jesus’ tomb empty, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” In the first chapter of the book of Acts, also thought to have been written by Luke, they appear again, just after the Apostles have watched Jesus ascend into the sky in a cloud, asking, “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” As if it wasn’t obvious!

As annoying as these questions seem, they also serve as a challenge to the people to whom they are posed. Yes, you have just seen something amazing, they seem to be saying, but it’s not like you weren’t told to expect this. So, don’t just stand there, you’ve got work to do!

They—and we—are being reminded of what our second reading today also seeks to remind us, “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for Jesus, who made the promise is trustworthy.” In these days after our celebration of Easter we have been holding on to this hope given us by Jesus’ resurrection. Today, in the Ascension of Jesus, we are invited to take a step further, to trust that in the gift of the Holy Spirit, given after Jesus’ ascension, God was and continues to be with us. And when we see God’s Spirit active in our lives, as we all can if we just look into the faces of our family and friends and at the things that we’re thankful for, we should stand in awe and wonder. But not for too long. Otherwise, those men in white will come along, with their annoying questions, reminding us, “Don’t just stand their twiddling your thumbs.” Now that you’ve seen God’s spirit working in your life. Now that you know that Jesus has kept his promises. It’s time to get out there and share this with everybody else!