May 28, 2017
In the comic strip: “For Better or Worse” – Elizabeth can’t sleep. She goes to her older brother Michael’s room. He is awake too. They both can’t sleep. Michael: “I can’t sleep, Elizabeth…I’ve never known anybody who died before.” Elizabeth: “Me neither.” Michael: “Mrs. Baird was such a nice lady. I can’t believe she’s gone.” Elizabeth: “Don’t cry Michael…Now we know our very own angel!”
Both children and adults need to take in and absorb a significant loss of someone they have known. Jesus “was taken up and a cloud took him from their sight.” The apostles and women including Mary, the Mother of Jesus, can only look up at the sky. Jesus is no longer with them. But recall in the Bible, a cloud both hides and reveals God. Angels, two men in white, break the spell and tell the sky watchers that Jesus will return and reveal himself to them in new ways. From Mt. Olivet they return and enter the city of Jerusalem finding comfort and safety in the “upper room.” Here, where they shared supper with Jesus before he died, they now devote themselves with one accord to prayer.
In the 12 century St. Bernard joined a monastery along with 31 friends and family. The place had had been called “valley of wormwood” but after the reform of the monastery and renewal of the surrounding peasant community it was called “clairvaux” or “clear valley.” When Gerard, Bernard’s brother and travelling partner died, in his grief, Bernard prayed to God: “You gave Gerard. You have taken him away. And if we mourn because he was taken we forget not that he was given.”
Like, the disciples, when we are caught up in grief and disorientated, we need to devote ourselves to prayer -- asking for the grace to mourn, to see how Jesus is still present and to pray for Holy Spirit to give us the strength to continue. This is what we are about between the feast of the Ascension and Pentecost. Especially so, on this Memorial Day weekend, when we remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to our nation. They are not forgotten.
Ascension of the Lord