Feast of the Ascension (observed)
By Jeannie Ewing
“While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak” (Acts 1: 4).
Not long ago, I was agonizing over a particularly difficult interior struggle that involved a bout of loneliness and occurred in the midst of our family moving from one small, Mayberry-esque town to a larger city. When I brought my discouragement to confession, the priest told me matter-of-factly, “What God does with you is none of your business.”
I was instantly humbled and pondered this point for quite a few weeks. I kept coming back to it during my daily prayer when I would look up at the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our living room, sometimes with tears in my eyes and sometimes with a wry smile.
On this Feast of the Ascension of Jesus, which is observed today in many dioceses, the disciples of our Lord were asked to wait for one thing: “the promise of the Father.” What was that promise exactly? Jesus answered in His typical sagacious fashion: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority” (Acts 1: 7). Essentially, He told the perplexed people of His time the same message I was given by the priest acting in persona Christi.
It’s not always in God’s plan for us to know what He is doing with us. And that can be especially painful when we feel lost or alone. Sometimes we are in a place of spiritual aridity when prayer seems drudgery and God appears distant. Other times, we feel as if our lives are in such a whirlwind that we cannot catch our breath; prayer feels almost impossible to keep up with.
When we intentionally settle in a place of silence and solitude, do we experience the solace of God’s presence? Not always. When the tears come, and you are confused about why God is asking you to wait, be still with Him and give Him your misery. It is the greatest treasure you can offer Him during those times of waiting.
But remember one thing, as I often remind myself: we don’t wait in vain. We wait for the promise of the Father. And His promise is to fulfill in us a plan beyond what are capable of fathoming. Jesus added one more point to His response that is equally important for us to recall often: “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8).
We may not be witnesses in the Holy Land, but we are called to be witnesses to our local communities. Geography makes no difference when it comes to the gifts imparted upon our souls by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised He would not abandon us, and we would never be orphans. When you are unable to visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament or spend a Holy Hour with Him at a Eucharistic Adoration chapel, call upon the Holy Spirit.
And the Spirit, Who surpasses us in all things, will intercede for us with groanings too deep.
Are you spiritually stuck right now? What hope can you find in today’s Mass or Scripture readings?
About the Author:
Jeannie Ewing believes the world focuses too much on superficial happiness and then crumbles when sorrow strikes. Because life is about more than what makes us feel happy, she writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. As a disability advocate, Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers and is the author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. Jeannie is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic magazines. For more information, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.