There are lots of things that struck me about this passage … the fact that the disciples still seem to hope Jesus will make a political change in the world, the idea of what it means to be a “witness”, the mystery surrounding the time of the parousia … but what caught my interest was the ascension.
That I’m focused more on Jesus leaving than on the arrival of the Holy Spirit, doubtless says something about me, and I don’t like what it says. I read somewhere that genuine love is always given in the face of certain loss, rather than in the expectation of keeping our loved ones forever … perhaps this was true of the disviples.
They were not broken up over Jesus’ departure but were jazzed about their futures as witnesses of the good news. With barely a lingering look towards the heavesns, they allowed angels too easily to send them on their way. Jesus was gone and the Holy Spirit had not yet come, but they didn’t spend their time mourning his loss or worrying about what was next, they prayed and waited, joyfully.
It’s said that the ascended Jesus, at home now in the kingdom of God, turns the future and present into one, that he is with us now always and because of J’s ascension, the battles we wage are at the same time already won.
But if I’d been a disciple, I’d have spent the rest of my days searching the sky.