Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost; why three separate feasts, and which is the more important? Easter certainly gets the most attention, it is the first celebration after a long somber penitential season. Not that many are somber or penitential prior to Easter, but that’s social commentary. Smirk. Easter is the realization that Jesus has risen. It’s theological, it is a testament of the Apostles. It is what they observed. Realization might not be the proper word simply because it is slanted towards intellect and reason. Easter is not reasoning but fact. The Lord has risen, the Apostles testify to that. Still, I use that word reason. It’s for discussion. A risen Lord is recognized, move on.
The next event in the trilogy is Ascension. If in part one the Apostles recognize Jesus has risen, part two is the recognition that Jesus is LORD. It is a transition from smoldering ember to roaring fire. It becomes somewhat visible in the Easter vigil. If Easter is the lighting of the Pascal Candle, Ascension is every candle ignited. One a thought, the other a proclamation. It is the journey from realizing Jesus has risen, to realizing Jesus is LORD. It is a leap from body to spirit, human to divine. If Easter is festive, Ascension is majestic. But what about part three? This is a trilogy.
Let’s use a common theme. From smoldering ember to roaring fire, but what then? How about something cosmic, something dramatic. Something supernatural. Let’s remember also the mindset of the Apostles. Hell, Earth, Heaven. Hell is the underworld, the world beneath our feet. Earth is where we stand. Heaven is the stars. To them the world is visual, both this life and the next. Jesus ascends to heaven, but is also present here. Mind boggling. A Möbius strip of astronomical proportions. A folding of time and space. The stuff of Physics. Back to the story. From ember to fire, then what? How about meteor or comet propelled towards earth. A heavenly God collides with earth. The Holy Spirit descends, and earth is forever changed. I don’t understand why parts two and three are not celebrated more, they are enormous events.
This space in time is a preparation for that cosmic collision, it is time to prepare for the Holy Spirit. The first reading Acts 1:12-14 tells that the disciples were to go to that upper room and pray. They are given a commandment. Pray for the Holy Spirit. That makes this week, one that does not contain any major feasts so important. Commentary: the importance of this week gets lost when Ascension Thursday gets shifted to the seventh Sunday. The message this week is to pray. In the trilogy the first to events are observations, for the third to occur requires an action. Assemble together and PRAY.
Observation, and Action. Active and contemplative. Prayer contains both. It is call and response. Prayer is asking and listening. Important too that the LORD commanded that they assemble, that their prayers might gain strength. That they might not be extinguished by a hostile world. Interesting to think that at the resurrection each person’s encounter was personal. At the ascension all those that were privileged to that encounter gathered to witness the LORDS ascension. At the third event, they gather to pray in unison with a common desire. From scattered to unified. It continues. Oh, that number seven? It means divine perfection or completion. This is the seventh Sunday of Easter.
P.S. Throughout here I use terms of cosmic, images of astronomical. One set of readings that is part of the season is the book of Revelation. I can’t write that well, but that book describes these events in cosmic and astronomical terms. It is apocalyptic. Today it is common thinking, dogma, catechism. Sometimes simply thought of a Catholic. Catholic, that word comes from universal and sometimes that gets mistaken as one size fits all. Pedestrian, common, universal. Wrong. Think instead of universal as of the universe. Enormous and infinite and wondrous and all encompassing. It is of the stars and of the heavens and galaxies. Much bigger than us. Majestic and wondrous. Just a thought.
rough draft #1