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Posted by on May 11, 2024

Transitions: Waiting, Praying, Growing

Transitions: Waiting, Praying, Growing

What can be done with a broken plate, or cup, or bowl? A beautiful keepsake crashes to the floor and is, as the saying goes, smashed to smithereens! An everyday cup slips out of a child’s hands and meets the same fate. Things break, both literally and figuratively. Sometimes they can be mended. Sometimes they can’t. And sometimes they can be reused rather than being sent to the trash heap.

In our own lives, we also experience times of transition. Something exciting and wonderful comes to an end and we mourn its passing. Something difficult begins to improve and we rejoice, hoping the improvement will continue. Sometimes it’s a bit of both and the something new is born slowly and quietly. Sometimes there’s a sudden change and that also requires time for adjustment.

In these times of transition, when broken pieces wait for realignment and transformation into something beautiful again, we don’t always know what to do. These are times for waiting, praying, and growing into newer, deeper, more human persons.

After the Resurrection, the disciples were visited many times by the Risen Lord. They came to believe that he had indeed risen from the dead. Many still thought he might now lead armies in battle to “restore the kingdom to Israel.”

The last time Jesus met with his friends, he instructed them to remain in Jerusalem and wait “for the promise of the Father” of which both he and his cousin John had spoken, the baptism with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:1-11)

Baptism is a word that means to plunge into something. Baptism with water involves having water poured over the person being baptized or their being submerged into water. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is not a physical thing. In the sacrament of Confirmation, the Bishop anoints the person with chrism and lays hands on the person’s head, while together we pray with him for the Holy Spirit to enter into their hearts in a new and deeper, transformative way. Not everyone experiences a sense of something being different in their lives after Confirmation, but there is a difference and some do notice it. Sometimes, the difference is dramatic. In the early Church and at various times in the following centuries, the coming of the Spirit has been seen in the community with signs and wonders – speaking in tongues, prophesy, healings, and other wonderful things.

At any rate, whether with dramatic signs or simply with a quiet sense of peace, Jesus promised the disciples would be baptized, plunged into, the life of the Holy Spirit. How that would happen or what it would mean was not explained before he was taken up and away from their sight. Two men, dressed in white, reminded them that they were to return to Jerusalem to wait and pray for the fulfillment of the promise. And so they did. The men also promised that Jesus would return one day. How or when this would happen was for the Father alone to know, he assured them.

St. Mark also spoke of Jesus’ final words before being taken up into heaven. He told them to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel, the good news, to every creature.” Signs and wonders would accompany their preaching. We can get very literal in understanding the words in the Gospel, but I suggest it’s important to seek understanding in terms of what we have learned in two thousand years about humans and our interactions with each other. People would be healed, new words and ways of speaking would be used, dangerous things would not hurt them. All would see the goodness of God in their lives and actions. (Mk 16:15-20)

St. Paul instructed the community at Ephesus regarding the gift of living their lives as Christians, followers of the Lord. The eyes of their hearts will be opened to see and understand the great hope and power of the inheritance they have received through the Holy Spirit’s anointing. They are to live with humility, gentleness, patience, preserving the unity of the community with peace. They are one body and share in the one Spirit, received through their baptism. Some are to go out publicly and teach and preach. Others will live more quietly in their communities, doing the regular things expected of those with their calling – parents, homemakers, tradesmen, teachers, healers, software engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, astronauts, poets, musicians, and so many, many more vocations that have opened through the centuries. (Two reading options – Eph 1:17-23 or Eph 4:1-13)

We are all called to be preachers of the Good News. We are not all called to do it on the street corners or pulpits of our communities. We do it in the everyday way we live our lives. Forgiving when we have been hurt. Helping those to heal who have been wounded, whether physically or emotionally. Finding ways to make living as Christians fun for our families, and preparing each member to be able to hold on to the hope and joy of the Good News while dealing with the opposition they will meet outside the community.

As a community, we are like a great big mosaic that is being created by our Father. He takes each of the broken pieces of our lives, places each in a very specific place in the design he envisions, and creates something beautiful and unexpected. Meanwhile, we wait, pray, and grow, becoming the pieces he needs for the mosaic.

As we wait and pray this week for the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives once again at Pentecost, may we have the courage to request the grace of being open to the ways the Father will shape and mold us into the pieces he needs for his mosaic. It may take a bit of sanding, nipping off a corner here or there, or being turned around or upside down several times, but eventually, we will fit into the picture just the way we need to fit.

Readings for The Ascension of the Lord – Cycle B


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