Reflection on the Readings

Juan de Flandes
Netherlands, 1447 – Palencia (Spain), 1514

A very intriguing painting that I’ve come across – certainly one of the more memorable ones – depicts the apostles standing around a large rock that has two very clear footprints imbedded in its surface. The disciples are gathered at the bottom of the frame with their heads tilted upwards looking up towards the sky with their mouths open. But all you see of Jesus are his feet dangling as he disappears at the top edge of the picture. Even though you can’t see anything above the knees, you know it’s Jesus because of the wounds on his feet. The Lord is being “lifted up” into heaven while the apostles look on. That’s what’s being described in our 1st reading from Acts and that’s what’s happening in our Gospel – Jesus is ascending to heaven.

In the painting, the apostles, for obvious reasons, are fixated on the heels of Jesus. In Matthew’s retelling of the scene, angels tell the earth bound followers of Jesus something we could all take to heart, too: “Why are you standing looking up at the sky?”

This is an interesting question when we really think about it…I mean, if you had just seen Jesus ascend into heaven, you’d probably stand there with your mouth open, staring into the sky. But here’s what the angels are getting at; here’s what they want us to remember:

Although the Ascension is a spectacular event from the perspective of those on the ground, a relationship with Jesus enables us to be lifted up in dignity and purpose as we follow His ways by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Don’t look up!” the angels say. Look out! Look within! Don’t get
caught up in what is already passed but see what’s happening right
now! Friends, because Jesus ascended into heaven, He is now able –
through the power of the Holy Spirit – to be a part of every decision you
make, in each word and action, in your relationships, in the choices you
make to love, to be compassionate, to forgive!

Quote of the Week

The soul is in God and God is in the soul. God is closer to us than water is to a fish.

Saint Catherine of Siena