Today is the feast of the Ascension. (Yes, I know, some Roman Catholic diocese celebrate it on Sunday, but this will always be “Ascension Thursday” to me.)
I spent some time this morning in an Ignatian Contemplation of the Ascension, standing with the disciples as Jesus was preparing to leave. I felt strongly the desire that he stay. In the midst of that feeling of impending loss, and the wish that it could be otherwise – that he would not leave, two images came to mind.
The first mirrored the final scene in ET, when the creature puts his finger over Elliot’s heart and says “I’ll be right here.” Those are the words I heard, and that, indeed, was Jesus’ promise. That that everything would be easy. (In fact, quite the opposite.) But that he would be right here with us.
The next image was of a baby bird being pushed out of its nest by its mother. As though to say: “I’ve nourished you and taken care of you, but it’s your turn now. Go fly.” As tempting as it would be to sit back and let Jesus do it all, the command is to take what we have learned and go out and be as Jesus in the world.
As I sat there, I was reminded of the answer an adolescent boy gave to a priest friend of mine when the latter asked the boy, who was an athlete, how he understood the message of the Ascension, the boy’s response was: “The ball’s in your court now.”
The ball’s in your court. What are you doing to do with it?