The readings take a turn today, because it is Ascension Day. Our readings reflect that.
Daniel is a fascinating book, today with a fantastical vision of the future heavenly realm, Through the crazy images of beasts and clouds we get a sense that God will restore the earth to something quite new.
Hebrews exalts the new focus on Christ’s solidarity with all humanity. He throws around words like “sanctifies” and “suffering” and “subjecting all things to them”. As I read it, I could not help but think about Liberation Theology which the Senior High just got done exploring on Wednesday nights (Yes, our kids are smart and like a challenge!).
As I think about this theology, with its focus on seeing the Christian faith through the eyes of the poor and oppressed and also focusing on Christ as Liberator, I see Hebrews come alive. This book is not old and obsolete, but fresh and alive for modern ears.
To know Christ as the pioneer, one who was made perfect by suffering, I cannot help but feel a closer kinship with God. As our country struggles, and the rich get richer and the poor get poorer I begin to wonder where God is. Well, God is standing with the poor. God is shouting about salvation, but it is no longer an exposition about “taking Jesus into your heart.” This is not a political stance, but a biblical one.
We serve a God who ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of the Father. I’m not even sure what that means. I’m not sure if we are even meant to take this literally. What would be the take-away? That Christ is elusive, no longer with us? I don’t think so. For me this ties into these ancient attitudes about God as Savior and on the Judgment Seat. In this sense God is a King who demands our allegiance – and this is not the kind of obedience one would be used to but a disarming odd mix – allegiance through servitude and suffering, humility, and obedience to restorative life. Now that is something!
Put another way, the Ascension is about coming to understand that we follow a God who has no limitations. That is even more of a something!
As you encounter this holy day of the Church Universal, I ask you to commit yourself, once again to a post-ascension existence which demands action, as well as heart.