It is night. The moon is full. And Snoopy lays on top of his doghouse with eyes wide open. He is scared. Snoopy jumps off the roof and bangs on Charlie Brown’s door: “Bam, Bam.” Charlie Brown sits up in bed. He opens the door and kneels down reaching out to Snoopy: “Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don’t worry, I’m here.” Now Charlie Brown hugs Snoopy. “I’m here to give you reassurance…everything is all right. The floodwaters will recede…the famine will end…the sun will shine tomorrow…and I will always be here to take care of you! Be reassured.” Then, off goes Snoopy, back to his doghouse. Charlie Brown climbs back into bed. He pulls the covers up to his chin and asks himself, “Who reassures the reassurer?”
We Christians know the answer to that question! The Ascended Lord reassures the reassurer. We who minister in Christ’s name, we who do God’s work on earth for heaven’s sake, will receive reassurance from our Lord and Savior. In the words of Fr. Terrance Klein, “This isn’t the day we lose the Lord. This is the day he carries our hopes to heaven.” But how we “hope” and what we hope for are the more important things.
For forty days, Jesus presents himself alive to many of his disciples and apostles. But they doubt more than they believe. He tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit. But they only ask about restoring the kingdom to Israel. He tells them to get to work- make disciples and baptize. But they only stand there looking up into the sky- gawking.
To gawk is “to stare openly and stupidly.” Gawking at someone prevents us from helping someone. It prevents us from giving care. It keeps us from sharing a good word. Gawking prevents us from building the kingdom. And I am afraid that gawking at God prevents us from hope.
In AMERICA magazine, Fr. Klein says “[a] hope chest is also a way to understand the Ascension.” His grandmother hands down the chest to his mother and his mother can recite all of its contents without opening the lid. It contains the family heirlooms and things that symbolize hopes, dreams, relationships, stories and events. We are walking hope chests. And on this Ascension Day, the humanness of Christ our Lord enters heaven. “The Son of the Father,” who exists “from all eternity” enters heaven with his human nature “forged in history- by way of his own relationships, stories and events…” “Today, for the first time, our human nature…becomes something that cannot perish.” What great hope! This says something to me as a person: I am good and holy because of Christ’s Ascension.
As we approach the Eucharist, Jesus reassures us as his witnesses. Yes, at times we doubt. And we gawk a lot. But Jesus will always send us messengers to remind us of our mission- our place is in heaven if we get to work!
Fr. Becket Ascension Day 2014