Reflections 24th May 2020

A Reflection for The Ascension

MT 28: 16-20 (    

Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky?

The apostles had spent three years with Jesus.  They had experienced his wisdom, witnessed his miracles and enjoyed his popularity.  They had seen him rejected, crucified and resurrected. In today’s Gospel he leaves them yet again but with the promise of the Holy Spirit.  What incredible change and turmoil they’ve been through in three years!   And today they are left standing ...looking into the sky!

Now they must let go of what they have cherished (the physical presence of Jesus) so that they can be open to and receive the Holy Spirit.

In these COVID-19 days we frequently hear the phrase “when things get back to normal.” We ask ourselves “What is normal?”  Do we really want to go back to the ‘old normal’ or is there a new insight and wisdom emerging among us?   Brother Richard Hendrick OFM Cap   in his poem Lockdown, beautifully describes a new emerging reality:

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.

William Stafford, in The Way It Is, writes about the ‘thread’ that we must hold on to in the midst of change:

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, will we be standing here looking into the sky - hankering after what was?   What is it that really matters to us?  What is that golden thread that we treasure, the one thing we must hold on to? And what is it we need to let go of in order to create that space that enables us to open to and welcome the new?   In this new silence can we hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit among us?                                                                             

Sr. Barbara Murphy IBVM – Sr. Barbara was a teacher for many years and is a formerPrincipal of Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham.   She was a member of her congregation’s Institute Council for 8 years, and is currently facilitator of the Loreto Spirituality outreach called Everyday God.   She is on the Committee of Management of Spiritan Mission Ireland.