Into a new dimension
As we write this note the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension. Jesus was "lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight," as Luke tells us in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. What does that mean? Representations in art quite literally imagine Jesus floating up into the skies. Some medieval illuminations almost comically depict Jesus feet dangling into the upper frame of the image as mystified disciples look up at the sky.
This way of understanding the Ascension robs it of its power. First, Jesus is seen as absent from us. Although there is a sense of absence for those first followers during the time between the Ascension and Pentecost, the power of the Feast we celebrate next week, Pentecost Day, is that Jesus is now with us in a way that transcends space and time. Second, to understand Jesus floating away over the rainbow diminishes the impact of the Ascension, best understood as Jesus entering into a different dimension -- the new creation, that exists right now and accessible to us as a heavenly realm that overlaps with this one. When we pray, "Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven," we point to the eternal dimension that one day will completely transform our present reality.
That's why it's so important for us to spend the next nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost in prayer for the renewal of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It’s the Holy Spirit who bridges the two dimensions of the new creation and this one in which we live now. It's the Holy Spirit who transforms our eyes so we can see the divine possibilities in the present. It’s the Holy Spirit who can energize us to transform this world through our acts of love, whereby we make earth more reflective of heaven.
So, this week, pray the nine days of prayer, the novena to the Holy Spirit, available HERE. Pray that our hearts may be open to a revival. Pray that we can be stirred up, that our hearts may be set on fire as were those first disciples in Jerusalem on that Pentecost morning. And join us on Pentecost (June 9) to celebrate, as we light a fire to recall the descent of the Spirit, as we baptize a baby into the life of Christ, as we celebrate with a picnic and all the other events we have planned for that day. But most of all pray that you and all of us may be empowered and sent forth to perform the work God has given us to. "Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us!"