Did you ever come across a group of people looking at the sky and wonder what was up there? Did you perhaps go gazing skywards yourself? And what if someone asked you what are you doing?
His questions, you might now be saying to yourself, are getting stranger and stranger by the week!
Well – let me put them into context. On Sunday last, I read that question:” Why are you standing there, looking up at the sky, men of Galilee? It was at Mass, in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles on the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. It was asked of them as they watched Jesus – who had promised them grace and power from the Holy Spirit – disappear from their sight.
But – back down to earth for a moment ……. A high point in a relay race is the moment when a runner passes the baton to another. More races are won or lost in that instant.
At His Ascension Christ was handing the baton to His Apostles to complete the work of His Father’s mission to Him to Go forth and spread the Good News to all the world.
And so to another question:
To-day, is Christ’s baton safe in my hands, His Apostle? Am I off and running – or still sky-gazing?
I came across this little story the other day – and I think it has a very simple and good message from a small boy for each of us. Harry was flying a kite with his Grandad ….… up it went to disappear into a low cloud. After a few minutes Grandad said: ”What if a thief has stolen your kite way up there!” But, Harry shook his head vigorously – so his Grandad insisted: ”But how can you be sure that kite’s still at the end of your string?” Harry replied: “Because I can feel what you can’t – I can feel the kite tug at my string!”
Harry reminds me of the wisdom of my friend little Anne Marie and her Hip! Hip! in Lourdes!
I pray that each of us may be graced to always feel the tug in the string of our Faith connection to God – to God who is not just watching us struggling from “up there” in heaven – but with us here-and-now and down-and-dusty in our everyday lives in this strange time of covid-19. Let us also be grateful for the assurance that the Lord is indeed here-and-now and down-and-dusty among us – as we see so many people [ourselves as well?!] rising to the challenge and being truly present-day Apostles. Let us be inspired by St Francis of Assisi [our Pope’s Patron] who told his followers to Go and preach the Gospel – use words only if you have to! – in bringing God’s Good News of His Love for us all.
For you in RH’20 there is a little bit of Ascension in what you are experiencing – as you exit the stage of CWC in these unusual circumstances. It will not be quite the same the next time you return.
For this week sees the end of the school year – and I am sure that many of you may have spent a while last weekend living-out in your mind what Union Day 2020 would have been – if covid-19 had not come into our lives. But our disappointment is surely small when we see how others are suffering?
When He ascended back to His Father – Christ left His Apostles to carry on His work. He is with us to-day – for He promised to be with us until the end of time. Hopefully, your legacy to CWC will be the Spirit-of-RH20 for future generations. Please God, we will often see you back here again in years to come – to see how the next generation is doing – or even perhaps as a Dad – as proud of your incoming Son as he was of you way back then – when you began our 3rd century – on 26th August 2014!
Freedom beckons! For how long have you longed for it ! ….. and now what does that mean ?!
I leave the last word to little Anne Marie …..… so go for it! – let’s hear it for the Ascension !?
And, why not let’s go further as well – and hear it for you of RH20 …….
3 cheers for RH20 !!! free at last ?! HIP! HIP! HURRAY ! And …….. THANK YOU !
Fr Michael Sheil SJ