[[You can find the Rosary Rant Series on the sidebar of the blog: here]]
Please God, more Scriptural and Patristic sources will be added to the present “rant style” meditations when circumstances at Holy Souls Hermitage aren’t quite so utterly barbaric.
The purpose of this first run through these mysteries is to note especially the goodness and kindness of Jesus amidst the violence and chaos back in the day… and today. Hang on, it might be a bit of a rough ride, as rough and tumble as we focus on, in this post, the Ascension of Jesus:
Acts 1,8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses [(martyrs) μάρτυρες] in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When He had said this, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight. 10 While they were continuously staring intently at the sky as He was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why are establishing yourselves there continuously staring intently at the sky? This Jesus [this Savior] who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen Him going into heaven.” (nab)
Angels are great. They know how to go right to the heart of the difficulty and set us on the right path. They’ve been watching and protecting and guiding us for a very long time. There’s nothing new for them, ever. They see the face of God right now and want us to know something of this as well.
However, they know that for us, unlike them, that doesn’t mean looking to our Lord directly, for they can see Him, but, right now, we can’t. The angels want that we see God the way we ourselves are meant to ”see” Him while we are yet in this world. And that does not at all involve establishing ourselves solidly in one place so that we can gape into the heavens into which Jesus ascended.
The angels know full well that we are stunned by statements of Jesus that we are to be His witnesses, His martyrs, to the ends of the earth. We’re frozen in fear until…. until… the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us. Then, no more political correctness, no more sycophantic idiocy before the god mammon, no more holding our lives to be too precious to lay down for our friends.
Remember that, at the consecrations at Holy Mass, the word group of ”martyr” is about testifying to memory by making the subject of testimony present: “Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.” That’s not just a nice memory, but the priestly acting in the very Person of Christ. The subject of one’s testifying, of one’s witness, is brought to be present here and now.
And that’s what the martyrs do, don’t they? When they lay down their lives for their friends — and there is no greater love than that — that love is not theirs, but Christ’s. It is He who lays down His life with us. He has us share in His death and resurrection.
The angels have great reprimands for us, always, if we listen to them. I, for one, am not always the best listener. But sometimes I do listen. What I hear is akin to what they say to the apostles and disciples who are clueless as to how they are to get themselves out of their catatonic state, out of their immobilizing fear. The angels cut through our pretended piety of staring into the heavens with a bit of sarcasm: He will come back in the same way, so, like, just get over it, would you just? Hah!
The angels know that we are to serve Christ Jesus in each other: “What you have done to the least of these, you have done to ME!” And with Christ ascending into heaven, we can no longer watch Him, as it were, do all the work for us. He wants us to put His love into action in our lives. No staring into the heavens! Find Him, His love for us wretched sinners, in each other by being an occasion for that love of His to flourish in each other, encouraging each other to participate in the sacraments, encouraging each other to rejoice in the grace of Christ Jesus among us. He remains with us to the end of the age. Jesus, just so good, just so kind. Come Holy Spirit!
Not convinced? How about this? …
John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” (rsv)
Not long after being ordained I gave a homily at the Fathers of Mercy Generalate in Kentucky about this Gospel. I prefaced my remarks by saying that no matter how great a time Jesus had with His foster father Joseph in carpentry, the construction Jesus would be doing in heaven for us would not be the kind wrought with nails and hammers and wood, but rather….
One of the other priests actually cat-called, “Why not? There’s nothing wrong with carpentry!”
Fine. I went on to speak about the Mystical Body of Christ, and how Jesus prepares a place for us in heaven by having a place for Most Holy Trinity prepared in our hearts and souls right now. Jesus loves us just that much.