This past Thursday we celebrated the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. The gospel reading for that feast, well-known to us all, recalled the Lord summoning the apostles to a mountain familiar to them all, and when they were gathered there Jesus spoke a few farewell words to them and then a most extraordinary thing took place. All of a sudden Jesus’ body began to be lifted up from the earth and it kept on moving until it disappeared into the heights of heaven.
Among the last words Jesus spoke to the apostles were to go and proclaim the gospel to all nations and baptize those who accepted the words of the gospel. They did this but it was going to take some planning. How should they begin? Who should go where? Should they go in a group or singly or in smaller groups and then come back every once in a while and report how things were going. The only problem was Jesus had not told them how to plan things. It was to be up to them. Well, not exactly.
They started remaining in Jerusalem and spent a good part of their time gathering in the Upper Room and in prayer. Maybe, somehow, the Lord would make things clear to them. I’ve often wondered what the apostles and other disciples did during those days between the day Jesus disappeared in His extraordinary flight to heaven and when He would somehow make things at least a bit clearer to them. I imagine there was a lot of discussion among them, recalling what Jesus had done during the years of His public ministry; maybe they ought to do what He did and just journey around all the towns and villages of Israel and begin proclaiming the gospel that way.
This also makes me think about all the lack of planning not only on Jesus’ part but on God’s part as well. Stop and think about it. Even going back to the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, God didn’t exactly make it too comfortable for Mary and Joseph having to journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. And then not being able to find a decent place to stay; you remember, ‘no room in the inn’.
And then what about the necessary flight into Egypt to avoid the wrath of Herod. Then there was the episode when Jesus was twelve and was lost in the temple. Then, of course, the many episodes that are not written for us in the gospel accounts: like the death of Joseph. How old was Jesus when that happened? Did Jesus keep on working in the carpenter’s shop? Wow! So much to ponder and for us it’s really easy because we know how the story has ended, at least so far!
Now, let’s consider our own prayer life for a moment or two. How do we have things planned out for ourselves? We might think that everything is in good order in our lives for which we are indeed thankful. But with all we have had to live with in recent months, I think what we need to do most is renew our ideas about faith and placing our trust in the Lord. Maybe it seems as though He doesn’t always have things planned to well. Did you ever think, maybe that’s on purpose!
Just another week of the Easter season. Hope it’s a good one for you.