Reflection for Sunday – May 21, 2023
Readings: Acts 1: 12-14; 1 Peter 4: 13-16; John 17: 1-11a
Preacher: Patrick Fox
While I realize that in some parts of our country today is the celebration of the Ascension, here in our area it is the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
We hear an account in our first reading of Jesus having been taken into heaven and the disciples devoting themselves to prayer.
Our second reading we hear that if we are to suffer as a Christian we should not be ashamed. Maybe a little challenged and troubled but not ashamed.
Our Gospel portion tells us about the relationship between Jesus and the Father, about Jesus’ oneness with the father and with us.
I believe that Jesus calls all disciples to relationship. He longs for oneness that begins with both parties being actively engaged. Jesus taught but never pressured. He invited but never lost interest.
We are the body of Christ with all our moving parts and all our unique ways and moments. We are male and female, we are young and old, we are very educated and have the education that life experience offers us.
We come from a grounded background of faith and from places where there was less of an introduction to faith.
We are the people gathered in the temple and those at arm’s length. We are believers and questioners.
We are teachers and seekers, we are secure and insecure, we are hope-filled and doubters.
But we are called to this oneness, this union modeled by Jesus who reminds us he came for more than those who already got it, so to speak.
He invites all to come and see, to enter into the trust that is found in a growing relationship. Relationships that invite learning, listening, and questioning.
There was once a father who had a large pine tree in the front yard. His father before him had planted it and the man had watched it grow his entire life. A wind storm pushed the tree over. Seeing it, the man called his son and said to him we need to push it back up. They struggled for some time but eventually they were able to push it up. Then they secured it with ropes to help it to stand. The man knew he wanted to do all he could to save the tree, but he could not do it alone. As they pushed he reminded his son of the story about the grandfather planting it. When they had it up they both sat and looked at the tree. Their thoughts were different, this man and his son. But they had in common the connection to a father and a grandfather.
That is what I hear Jesus teaching us today. We don’t come to faith by an infusion of knowledge alone, or by grace alone. We come to faith when there is a relationship between knowledge, grace, hope and more.
As Jesus revealed to us the Father, so we reveal to others the Father and Spirit. We are called in Baptism to be priest, prophet and king. We are called to bring to others our joy in the Eucharist, our prophetic voice for our Church and our celebration in gratitude for the faith we have found and are still seeking.
Like the father who called the son to push up the tree, we share the relationship we have found; we reach in hope that we can push up our belief and we secure the progress we have made with ropes of hope. Like all the disciples before us, we look at our progress and realize it is only the beginning. Just as relationships, as long as they last, are also always about beginnings.
We can ascend to hope with the help of our friends, the father, son, spirit and one another and that relationship becomes our prayer as Jesus prayed for us today.