May 16, 2021; Mark 16: 15-20; Feast of the Ascension
We all believe in Jesus and we believe in his love for us. So wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see Jesus face to face? Wouldn’t it be helpful if we could meet with Jesus and touch him, the way we touch other people in our lives who we love? Wouldn’t it be great if Jesus had a booth at the Giant Eagle down the street, and when you needed to see him, you could drive over there and look into his eyes and say “I really need your help. There’s a kid at school who’s picking on me. My spouse doesn’t understand me. I’m afraid of what tomorrow will bring.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe. But what would happen if we had a crisis in the middle of the night, and the Giant Eagle was closed? What would happen if we showed up one morning really needing to talk to Jesus, only to find out that he was at the Giant Eagle in Rocky River? It would be difficult for us to get to Jesus and for him to get to us.
That’s why the meaning of today’s feast of the Ascension is so important. Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus was taken up to heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. Now when we first hear this, it sounds like Jesus is being taken away from us. But the whole purpose of Jesus’s ascension is to make Jesus more available to us. You see, when the Scriptures say that Jesus sits at the right hand of God, it is telling us that Jesus is now sharing in God’s power and in God’s presence. The power and presence of God is everywhere. So, the Ascension does not take Jesus out of our reach. Rather, it makes it possible for Jesus to reach us. Jesus ascends into heaven so that he can be with us always. This means that at any time, in any place, in every situation, Jesus sees us, knows us, and can hear us. Jesus is with us when we open our eyes the first time each morning. He is with us when we fly in an airplane or when we are waiting in the dentist’s office.
This availability of Jesus to us is a tremendous gift. I am hoping that those of you here making your First Communion this morning will be able to appreciate it. In a few minutes, you will for the first time share with us at the table of the Lord. When you receive the consecrated bread and wine, Jesus will be with you in a real and unique way. But you should never think that when you leave this church, that you leave Jesus behind. The Jesus you will receive sits at the right hand of God. That means that you can talk to Jesus, you can thank Jesus, you can ask Jesus for his help when you are at home, when you are at school, or when you play with your friends.
If you need a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, go to Giant Eagle. But if you need Jesus, remember he Is with you, right here, right now.