Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” The question can appear quite amusing if we imagine the scene. This question, however, posed by the two white-clad persons or angels is reminiscent of the question posed by the two in dazzling garments to the women who were staring into the tomb, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Most of us have a tendency to get caught in a moment, be it spiritual, political, historical, or theological. No matter how amazing or dreadful these moments may be, or how we see them as ‘defining’ moments, when we get stuck in them they become our empty tomb or cloud in the sky, holding us back from the forward movement of the living Spirit of God. And in that wonderful movement of God’s Spirit all such moments melt into the flow of God’s creative energy.
In the reading from Acts, the apostles are told to wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit, the promise of God. Once they were baptized, immersed, in the Spirit of God they would be ready to take up the task of witnessing to Jesus from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
A similar mission is given in Matthew’s Gospel. Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The baptism of which Jesus speaks is not the pouring on of water while reciting a formula. Jesus is talking about the acceptance of and immersion in the Spirit, in the Trinitarian fullness of God. It is not the conformity to any one religion, but the commitment to the Way, the way of living that Jesus lived and witnessed to with his own life.
That is what makes a disciple. That is what we are commissioned to be and the witnessing is what we are commissioned to do. In doing the witness we must be the way. The followers of Jesus had been practiced in the Way. The story of the Good Samaritan ends with the command, “Go now and do the same.” In Luke’s account of the Feeding of the Multitude, the disciples point out to Jesus the need to get some food for the crowd, and Jesus tells them, “You give them something to eat.”
For the disciples, the post-resurrection days may well have been the glorious moment. The Ascension event, however, dissolves that moment so it can flow into the next movement of God’s creative energy – You now are the witnesses because you now are the Way. That is the divine river that flows to the ends of the earth.
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP