Gospel: Mark 16: 15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

The Gospel of the Lord.

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Understanding Life Transitions | Tommy McGregor

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We’ve entered the season of graduations and weddings, of confirmations and priestly ordinations.

Such important milestones in life are transitions: endings and beginnings.

We’ve all gone through them. For example, an important transition is the switch from middle school to high school, when familiar faces are often replaced by strangers.

Then there’s the transition into college, or the first time you felt homesick. The transition from the single life into marriage; from being newlyweds to first-time parents; from one job to another; or the transition into retirement. 

There’s the transition I’ve made from being a parochial vicar to the pastor of this parish.

There are also transitions of grief. 

Walking out of church after a funeral, one spouse suddenly carries the responsibility of two. 

There’s the transition our entire world has made, sliding into this pandemic – and, please God, there’s the transition we’ll make out of it!

***

Today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension, the moment when the Risen Christ leaves this world, returning to his heavenly Father, the most stunning transition of all.

This brings the third major change – or transition – in the Apostles’ relationship with Jesus.

First, there was the call. 

I’m sure Peter often remembered that day when he was mindlessly mending his nets on the Sea of Galilee. Suddenly, Jesus appears and says to him, “Follow me.” Peter drops his nets – and the life he once lived – and follows Jesus.

That’s a transition some of us have felt. We heard the Lord calling, so we dropped our nets and followed him. Or, perhaps more simply, we dropped a habit; made a faith-based decision; changed our plans; or our outlook on life.

***

Things Not Working Out for You? Cast Your Net on the Other Side of the Boat  - Marge Steinhage Fenelon

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Three years later, Peter experiences another transition: Christ’s death and burial. The man he promised to follow has seemingly abandoned him. It’s a transition many of us have felt – someone we loved dies, leaving us stunned and alone.

***

Then there’s Christ’s ascension. 

After spending the last forty days reappearing to his disciples, reassuring them that there is life after death, Jesus returns home to his heavenly Father.

As it’s written in today’s Gospel, “So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.”

With Christ’s ascension comes that final transition for the Apostles: Jesus leaves the future of the Church in their hands. “Go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature,” he says.

***

Feast of the Ascension - Wikipedia

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What a difficult transition that must’ve been.

Prior to the Ascension, the Apostles hid behind Jesus. They watched him perform miracles; they listened to his sermons; they asked him a thousand questions. 

But now the Apostles are front and center. 

Now they must do the work. They must organize themselves, perform the miracles, preach to the crowds, and baptize the nations. 

It’s a transition that happens in every generation. At some point, we all must make the faith of the Apostles our own.

Growing in faith often happens during those different transitions in life. 

Perhaps our young people remember the moment they were confirmed. Suddenly, the faith their parents and godparents promised to teach them at baptism becomes their own.

Or maybe the moment you became a first-time parent. Staring into the face of your newly born child, you praise the Author of Life.

Our faith can also grow during those harder transitions in life: we have an empty nest; we retire; our marriage comes to an end; or we lose a loved one.

Suddenly, an absence is created within us. We need something – Someone – to sustain us, so we turn to God.

***

When did I experience a transition in life? Did I feel my faith growing? Have I had an “Ascension moment”?

***

This is the challenge of the Ascension, taking greater responsibility for our faith.

But this feast also brings great comfort. As Christ ascends into the heavens, he promises to send the gift of the Holy Spirit, saying, “I will not leave you orphans…the Spirit of truth will be with you always.”

It’s a truth we’re all invited to embrace. In baptism, God gives us his Spirit. Part of our faith journey is becoming more aware of the truth, that in every transition, God is with us. As Jesus says in the Gospels, “I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.”

***

We’ve entered the season of graduations and weddings, of confirmations and priestly ordinations.

Such important milestones in life are transitions: endings and beginnings.

Each transition brings the opportunity for deeper faith. 

As it’s written in the Psalms, “In God alone be at rest my soul.”

Published by Fellowship of Praise: ALL praise to God our Reason, Hallelujah!!!

To God be The glory. Let us praise God together for His ALL in our lives, Amen.

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