Today’s Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew’s Gospel ends with this beautiful and bold statement from Jesus to His disciples, and it is Providentially fitting to ponder its meaning on this Ascension Thursday.
How did the disciples feel when they realized Jesus was going into Heaven, not to abandon or leave them orphaned, and yet obviously He would not be walking in physical, human form on the earth with them any longer? Was it bittersweet to carry the knowledge of having been taught by Jesus personally only to say goodbye in a certain sense? How difficult would it have been to go from seeing and believing to being challenged – like we as modern disciples – to believe without seeing? I imagine the complexity of emotions from fear to hope to sorrow and joy that mingled in their human hearts.
In that sense, the earliest disciples were not all that different from us. Sometimes it seems difficult to know or love a God who hides Himself in the tabernacles of the world. At times we want to feel a warm embrace, a look of comfort or compassion, to hear tender and merciful love in the spoken voice of God. For our hearts to embrace a new kind of love, one that requires us to move beyond human emotion or the senses and intellect, is much more taxing at times. I like to believe this is because our concupiscence leans towards what is easy and comfortable rather than what is considered to be a hard faith, one that must be refined and purged so that it may be possible for the soul to be elevated to Heaven.
Just as Jesus ascended into Heaven with the parting words, “I am with you always, until the end of the age,” His words remain true for us today. Let us take time to ponder our devotion to His Paschal Mystery as manifested in the beautiful and sacramental gift of the Eucharist. This is the ultimate gift He left for us – the total gift of Himself, available to us daily should we choose to partake in the Sacrament that frequently. Yes, it is hard to dig more deeply in our hearts and souls in order to discover that unitive love that can only be experienced by receiving Him worthily and well. It would be easier if we all could have Jesus over once in a while like we do our parish priest, to laugh and lament with Him, to listen and pray.
Or would it be easier, in fact? Perhaps we would still become lazy and complacent if He were walking and talking amongst us. Perhaps Jesus wants us to love Him so much that, in order to truly find Him, we must seek Him in the quiet tabernacles of our churches and, ultimately, the tabernacles of our hearts. It is the only way that the interminable ache and longing of our hearts will be alleviated: by the nourishment of His Body and Blood.
Do I receive Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist with a grateful heart? How can I adore this beautiful gift of Himself, perhaps through daily Mass or Eucharistic Adoration?
Oh beloved Jesus, open the eyes of my heart that it may be a beautiful tabernacle to encase the precious gift of Yourself when I receive you in the Eucharist; and may I, in turn, give you a total gift of myself each day.
Copyright 2014 Jeannie Ewing