Thursday, May 05, 2016

Continually Praising God

By Beth DeCristofaro

Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call… (Ephesians 1: 17-18)

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God. (Luke 24:50-53)

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, And make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving, for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation, and, where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.  (Collect from the Mass of the Day)

My brother will soon return from his fourth overseas deployment with the Air National Guard.  Our mom and all of us are breathing easier.  Even though it has been only seven months, he and his wife plan to travel and visit their children and grandchildren then come East to see our mom after his return.  God grants us the ability to make such deep, important connections in our lives.  How difficult it must have been in ages past when immigrants left their homes for a new life or conscripts marched off to war not knowing if they would see their loved ones again.  Or, even more, incomprehensible to our modern, linked-in world, to perhaps never know what became of them.

Jesus led his friends as far as Bethany.  It was a trek they undoubtedly walked many times before while they evangelized the region and when they visited dear friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  I wonder if Jesus who had willingly suffered through his ordeal and had overcome death also had a tinge of sadness that he would no longer walk these paths as a man with loved ones.  In his divinity, He would and did know them in new ways.  Were the old, human connections that he was losing as poignant for him as they are for us as we prepare for changes or our final journey of death?

What is clear is that even with the loss of Jesus, walking and talking by their side that the disciples rejoiced with new courage, zeal, and outspokenness.  They stopped hiding in rooms and were continually in the temple praising God.  They were alleluia people even though their ongoing lives, oppressed by Romans and held in suspicion by the leaders did not change.  They followed Him in hope.

Praise Him, follow Him in hope by walking with someone who is lonely or in need.  Give a call or visit that annoying neighbor whom you generally avoid, the awkward relative who comes to dinner once a year.  He/She is Christ.  Praise Him by loving someone who might have no one with whom to walk to Bethany. 

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