The last two weeks have brought two of my favorite feasts: Ascension and Pentecost. But the Church doesn’t just remember these feasts once a year, we’re invited to meditate on them every week when we pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary! (Which is my way of saying, I’m not late!) Perhaps what I love most about these feasts is the 10 days of waiting in between.
At the Ascension Jesus sends His disciples out to be His witnesses to the whole world, and He promises that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Then He immediately returns to Heaven on a cloud. After 40 days of being with Jesus after the Resurrection, they can’t see Him, hear Him, or touch Him. And they had no idea when the Spirit would be given to them, or how, or what it would do. So they waited.
What would it have been like to be with the Apostles in those days of waiting?
Those 10 days between the Ascension and Pentecost must have been hard. They were still the men who had abandoned their nets and left everything to follow Jesus. They had witnessed the joy of the Resurrection and wanted to share it with others. But they didn’t yet know the way. They didn’t have that outpouring of the Holy Spirit that would fill them with Knowledge, Wisdom and Fortitude; that would transform them into the men that spoke in tongues, baptized thousands, healed the sick, and went joyfully out to spread the Good News even in the face of persecution.
There have been many times in my life where I felt like the Apostles in those 10 days: times when I longed for something that went unfulfilled, when I felt called to something I couldn’t realize, when I couldn’t see the God’s hand or plan but I had to keep moving forward even as I waited. I connected to these mysteries a lot as a young woman discerning my vocation, but even now as a wife and mom, that vocation has brought all new seasons of waiting and longing. And during those times, I turn again to the story of the Apostles between the Ascension and Pentecost.
The 10 days of waiting show me that there is Good in the waiting. Jesus allowed His Apostles and even His Mother to wait, not just for Pentecost, but also for the Resurrection. When He offers me a season of waiting, I know I’m in good company. The Apostles also give me an example of what to do in the waiting: have faith, root myself in the Church and my community, and cling to Mary. Doing these things brings me peace even as I wait; they help me trust Jesus and wait with anticipation – with joyful hope — rather than angst.
We also can cling to the image of the Apostles after Pentecost with confidence – God keeps His promises. He sent them the Holy Spirit and gave us the Church. And we have also received the same powerful, transforming Spirit as the Apostles; we can draw on that power to help us remain faithful even when we long for things not yet realized.
Copyright 2019 Megan Swaim