As a human being, I am a person who does not cope well with living in any sort of vacuum! I recall once waiting nearly three months for an appointment to a new parish. It nearly drove me into mental home!

Whatever happens we must never feel that after the Ascension we are left behind in a vacuum. The Risen Lord has

NOT gone away. He has not left us orphans! {See John 14: 18, and note that some versions render orphans as bereft or destitute.} Even though we await the celebration of Pentecost we are not in some sort of limbo – neither one thing nor the other.

The celebrations of Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost are all joyful reminders of the reality in which we live, and are challenged by.

Therefore, this is the time given for us to ‘gird’ ourselves, gather our resources, and prepare to take up the slack. Pentecost, next week, will be the celebration of the fact that the Spirit is already with and in us. We are not waiting for the Spirit to come. He has already done this. There is already unfinished business awaiting our attention

OUR BUSINESS!

Like Stephen in

THIS SUNDAY’S FIRST READING [ACTS 7: 55 – 60] we should already be able to see the glory of God, and Jesus standing right here with us. This is confirmed for us in THE RESPONSORIAL PSALM [97 or 96].

“The Lord is king, the most high over all the earth.”

In addition,

THE SECOND READING [REVELATION 22: 12 – 14. 16 – 17. 20] proclaims “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Make no mistake, the Lord is still very much around, but this does not mean that we sit back and leave it all to him. On the contrary he expects us to become involved – as was the case with Stephen. The same reading tells us that “ I am coming, bringing my recompense, to repay everyone for what he has done.” We need to know that the word recompense in its primary meaning means reward, and should not be limited to punishment.

So, for what will I be rewarded? At this stage of the proceedings let us not be focussed on any obsession with punishment for failures. {Again, it needs to be emphasised that Catholics, as a breed, need to stop living with the obsession of guilt!} There is a value in our listing the credit side of the balance sheet. On a personal level I would place effort on the top of my list. Yes, success has not always been a bright, shining, star –

BUT I HAVE, GENUINELY TRIED! This must be the same for many of us!? Very often people are worried (the guilt thing rises again!) that, for example, one or some of their children are not fully ‘practising the faith’ (whatever that may or may not mean?). My reply to them is always the same ….. “at the time did you do your best? Maybe your best was not good enough, but if it was your best you have nothing to worry about. The ‘children’ are now big boys and girls, with their own focus – making their own decisions, and choices. They are responsible for themselves.” I know of scores and scores (much more than any of you have had children) of parishioners who no longer ‘practice the faith’. I gave them of my best and very often it would not have been good enough. Am I to hold myself responsible for the choices they freely made?

On our list, a few other things need to appear …. what about loyalty, faithfulness, participation, and perseverance? All of these imply involvement, which should never be measured by quantity of activity! This consideration is important for those who used to be very active but now find themselves, because of age, physical limitations, and personal circumstances, unable to be in the forefront. These folk are still able to be involved – through prayer, being supportive, and giving encouragement. Never underestimate the value of these contributions. Backroom boys and girls are very important – and, in fact, are essential. We all, at some stage, have to ‘let go, let others, let God’! There are words from our Revelation reading which need to become better known and accepted – “Come … let him who hears say, ‘come’ …. and let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price.” No one is ever destitute or bereft!

This short time of

ASCENSION calls everyone of us to INVOLVEMENT. The Risen Lord needs us. The Holy Spirit needs us. Do not forget, however, that any involvement requires our acceptance of the fact that HE is the beginning and end of everything we do. We should never try or think that we do it alone.

Now we hear Jesus’ words from

TODAY’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [JOHN 17: 20 – 26]. Never forget that the Lord is praying for us and for those who believe through our word. In addition, do not overlook the fact that not only has Jesus made things known to us but continues to do so. Let us always classify ourselves as LEARNERS!