The feast of the Ascension is a feast which might not seem to reach into the everyday living of our faith. Although Mark’s account gives us the barest of details, simply telling us that Jesus was taken up into heaven, this only happens after Jesus has spoken to them and conjuring up all kinds of seemingly strange images about snakes and poison. However, I think the Ascension and the Gospel for the day offer us quite a lot to go on both personally and as a member of the Catholic Community. First of all the commands:
1) Go out to the whole world
2) proclaim the good news to all creation.
These are pretty demanding commands. Is going out to the whole world something simply geographic? Is it easier to think in terms of great distances rather than the whole of the world gathered in my town or place of work? Keeping things at a distance is often much easier. And proclaiming the good news to the whole of creation? Not just people? That made me think – how do I proclaim the good news to the whole of creation? Does my lifestyle and choices actually make good news for the whole of creation? Over the last couple of years, the LiveSimply network have been promoting the call of creation to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with all. How do you or your church community rate yourselves in those three areas?
A few years back, a colleague and I were invited to lead an evening reflection for a Lent group in a Derbyshire village. During the evening, there would be a fasting supper. However, the person who invited us to lead the reflection suggested it would probably be worth eating before we came as there wouldn’t be much to eat (Honestly!) During the evening, the finest home made soups, freshly baked breads and rich cheese appeared. It seemed that somewhere along the line, the point of the fasting supper had been lost Maybe too, we have missed the point of proclaiming the good news to the whole of creation, especially when we proclaim it only in words.
At the risk of being overly political, maybe you’ve seen the advert being used by the BNP for the elections next week. An image of Jesus, pretty negative BNP questions about multiculturalism and then the question “What would Jesus do?” I think the answer the Gospels give is not one the BNP would expect: “Go out to the whole world, proclaim the good news to all creation” – speak with it, touch it, nurture it, heal it, support it, stand in solidarity with it. The whole of creation – including people.. The feast of the Ascension calls us to rise above our small concerns and to be lifted out of our small world view . That means proclaiming the good news to all creation – and living simply, sustainably and in solidarity.
One final question: how does our catechesis – especially in this season of mystagogy – tap into the nature of faith and politics as a lived reality.