“When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” An avid science fiction fan, I used to envision this as a Star Trek episode, or the closing scene of A Canticle for Leibowitz.
“Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” I could imagine myself among the crowd, mouth agape. As witnesses to the latest in a series of improbable, if not impossible, events, why not stand there in awestruck wonder? Stay tuned for the next episode!
But now that I’m older, I pay more attention to what Jesus said before his dramatic exit, “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.” Jesus has given the disciples their marching orders, which they seem to have promptly forgotten in all the excitement. Enter new characters to get the plot back on track: the angels remind the disciples of their continuing mission: go back to Jerusalem, wait for the Advocate, and then get to work!
In our own charism of Charity, there is certainly a place for awestruck wonder, but Saint Louise de Marillac reminds us, “I continue to ask God for His blessings for you and pray that He will grant you the grace to persevere in your vocation in order to serve Him in the manner He asks of you. Take good care of the service of the poor.” Louise had a special affinity for the period from Ascension to Pentecost. How fitting that this year her feast day [May 9] immediately precedes Ascension! How do we apply her advice and God’s grace to our continuing mission as we begin our third century of living lives of love? What is our “final frontier?” Where will we boldly go?
Lisa Shay is an Associate of the Sisters of Charity of New York and the Electrical Engineering Program Director at West Point. She and her husband Jeffrey have six wonderful children, aged 7 to 22.