The past Sundays have been rich with central images from our faith.
1) Jesus asking the Father to release him from the cross (Passion Sunday)
2) His passion and death (Holy Week)
3) The days of waiting (Good Friday, Holy Saturday)
4) The empty tomb and the barely-believed appearances (Easter)
5) His leaving this world, going back to the Father from whom he came (Ascension)
6) The Spirit of Jesus, God, still living after all, alive within us, pitching its tent in our hearts and souls, coming closer to us than we can come to ourselves (Pentecost)
Moving images, deep and piercing and rewarding. Perhaps they are enough for our prayer this week: remembering, in silence and depth.
But if you would like, we could look though those images together, connecting them with the readings for this Sunday. Clarity can come from such looking
1) Jesus asked the Father to release him from the cross. His whole life had been a testimony to the one he addressed as “Abba,” the same God known in the Hebrew Testament, well-known for ages. “Did anything so great ever happen before,” Moses cried out in the First Reading. “Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?”
2) The Passion and death: Jesus’ request to be spared on the cross was heard. He was indeed saved from the sting of death, but only by plunging directly into it.
3) Christians remember all this and wait.
4) His life was love and that could not be killed. And neither could the grave be the final place for such love. The risen Jesus left his tomb behind. When he appeared to the apostles in this Sunday’s Gospel, they were a confused group. They fell down to worship him but simultaneously doubted. Like us maybe?
5) To help them, Jesus explained his life. He told them how life was to continue on earth, how they were to go out and themselves be the dwelling place of God on earth. Then he ascended.
6) His own Spirit would breathe within them, and for all ages their life-breath would be Christ’s life-breath. Paul tells us in the Second Reading that the Holy Spirit, the third “person” within God and Christ, makes us the children of God.
The transcendent God came as close as the cross. The Church, and the Trinity (which we know by its actions on earth) came to us not only by all the learned treatises throughout the ages but by our own experience. We are grateful to Augustine and Aquinas and Rahner and von Balthasar, et al, nevertheless, above all, we give our thanks to God who is love.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So, what are we left with?
The face of God come to earth, revealed in the loving interactions that are the touch of the Trinity. We have become quietly the “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” We are to “suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Second Reading).
Such a great commissioning.