Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June 5, 2011 – Feast of the Ascension

Acts 1:1-11 Eph 1:17-23 Mt 28:16-20

This is part of an ongoing conversation between first century catechumen, Respecta, and her teacher, Petras.

“I had a thought during our instruction and I am so excited about it!” Respecta exclaimed. “I just need to check with you to see if this could be really true.”

“What is it?” Petras inquired.

“Well, I was thinking about Jesus ascending body and soul as well as in His divinity into heaven. I think that this is more than simply a promise for our future, though that would be wonderful enough by itself. Could I be right in thinking that Jesus now represents all of creation in His own body in heaven—that everything that God made has a place in eternity? Just think of it! Every created thing is holy because Jesus is holy and everything is to be raised to its full potential. Could this be true?”

“Oh, my, Respecta. You understood much more than I thought you would with this reading. Most people focus on the promise of human resurrection and ascension into heaven as a reward for living faithful lives. But you have grasped something that is also in this celebration of Jesus’ ascension, namely, that all creation is made holy by His life, death and resurrection. Every flower, deer and ant has a future because God has blessed all material being in Jesus. No one can ever claim that human existence or bodily form is so humble that it should be disparaged or rejected. No! God has made bodily life good by simply creating it, and it is holy because Jesus is human all the way into eternity! You know, some Greek philosophers teach that material existence, like our bodies, is depraved and forever infected with evil. As Christians we know that in Christ Jesus all of creation is holy.”

“That’s what I thought, Petras. Now, perhaps you can clear up a question for me. I listened as the lector proclaimed the memoirs of the apostle Matthew that Jesus would come as He left us. Does that mean we can expect Him to come on clouds?”

Petras smiled at the thought. “I can see how you might think that, Respecta. Since you are not Jewish you may not realize that the symbolism of clouds is a rich one that appears throughout the Jewish Scriptures. For example, when Moses climbed Mount Horeb to receive the ten commandments, he hiked through the clouds to meet God. When he returned to give the commandments to the people, Moses’ face shone with God’s glory. In other words, Moses ascended beyond or higher than other human beings in his encounter with God. And, having spoken with God, Moses was changed—altered so to speak, so that this encounter affected him thoroughly. Anyone who talked with him knew that Moses had a special relationship with God because Moses related to others and thought about life as God did. The cloud and the light are symbols of Divine presence and glory. So, when Jesus ascended through the clouds, He was taken up into God’s glory. I don’t know that we should actually wait for Him to return on a cloud, but I am sure that Jesus will be suffused with Divine glory and wisdom when He returns.”

“Oh! The Jewish Scriptures aren’t part of my heritage so I didn’t realize there was a history of clouds and light to symbolize God’s glory and presence.”

“There’s something else we need to remember whenever we read from the Acts of the Apostles, Respecta. The author of Acts is the same person who penned the Gospel according to Luke. Perhaps this final line with two men saying, “He will come as He as gone,” refers to the ascension that is found in Luke. In that first book of the evangelist, we find that Jesus ascended into heaven with His hands raised in blessing over the disciples.”

“So,” Respecta interrupted, “Jesus may return blessing His faithful disciples. Instead of being worried or scared, anyone who loves Jesus and is faithful to Him should happily look forward to His return.”

“Exactly! Some people, even among Christians, stress the fear of God so much that they overlook the ever present love and mercy of God. Jesus left blessing the disciples. Whenever He returns, I think we can expect that He will continue blessing us.”

“Petras, this is so much to think about this week. I mean, all creation is blessed and holy in Christ and He will return again in the same way that He left: with a blessing. No wonder Christians are the happiest of people! We live in a holy world and can rejoice that our lives and our bodies are holy, too. I guess that knowing my body and all bodies are holy makes me want to treat myself and other creatures with more respect. Meantime, our only task is to love God and, of course, Jesus and to make Him known to the world.”

As Petras and Respecta parted their ways, each going home, each wondered about how to honor their bodies, all of creation and God more deeply this week.

Key words

Bible, Scripture, Christian, environment, ecology, lectionary, reflection, homily, sermon, Catholic, green, environmentally friendly, sustainability, the common good, the commons

About Me

The Green Nun earned an MA in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley and is currently completing a Masters degree in Earth Literacy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. This blog spot is being done as an integration project for the MA.