Ascension – Year B
Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-11
On this day of remembering ascension we do well to pay attention to footnotes.
* Other ancient authorities lack "and was carried up into heaven" (Lk 24:51).
* Other ancient authorities lack "worshiped him, and" (Lk 24:52
And so we read: "Then Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God."
This moves us to the same sort of abrupt ending of Mark that cries out for something more. This is a good place for Luke to end his story of Jesus and then to pick it up again to begin his story of Church.
This reading also helps us see the issue of "blessing" without the confusion heaven adds to this and almost every conversation of which it is a part.
Acts begins with a remembrance of Jesus speaking with the disciples for forty days about the presence of G*D, the freedom of G*D, the mercy of G*D, the new-beginning of G*D, partnership with G*D (or if you must, the kingdom of G*D).
This conversation reminds the disciples that they are still not experiencing these gifts of presence, freedom, mercy, new beginnings, or partnership. So the hinge question, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the king-dom to Israel?" This question represents the failure of the disciples to stand with Jesus rather than under him.
Confirming this is their response to Jesus being lifted up and out of sight (still without heaven being mentioned). They gawk upward. Two strangers need to remind them that Jesus will return in the same way, inexplicably, and if they keep avoiding one another and the world around them, they will have missed the next opportunity to, unexplainedly, share their experience of an amazedly unexplainable G*D.
To put the two passages together - It is time for us to rise, as workers/saviors of the world, to throw off our chains of gazing in the wrong direction, and to be a blessing.