Feast of the Ascension
May 8, 2016
There is nothing like a change in perspective to help us better perceive graced moments in our lives, by giving us the “view” from a higher location. Once, when I first began working for American Airlines many years ago, we had our usual monthly payday raffle. Each ticket would cost a dollar; this time, the first prize was a trip for two to anywhere in the world, 2nd prize being a trip for two to Athens, Greece (we had great payday raffles). I remember helping a passenger on the phone one day when a fellow employee came by hawking these raffle tickets (and annoying me). I bought one ticket for a dollar simply to get rid of this person!
Much to my surprise, I ended up winning second prize from this raffle, so I and a friend ended up in Athens as a result of that dollar I invested. This trip changed my life. How? It changed my perspective on the place and culture in which I was living. How could it be that in Athens one can still see the Parthenon, which, while even in ruins, is still considered by architects and historians to be one of the most perfect buildings ever constructed from the point of view of beauty and perspective? Our whole Western philosophy (pre-Christian) originated here. And I came home wondering what would be left of our own culture after 2300 years, as parts of ancient Greece had endured.
Jesus wishes to take us on a faith journey with him above the clouds, beyond earth orbit, even beyond the edge of the universe, into the spiritual dimension from which our entire creation originated. Life on earth holds many secrets, most of which will become crystal clear to us upon death. The key is our faith, which allows us to take a journey with the Lord to heaven and thus gain the Lord’s perspective on our own life.
What can we learn from taking a faith journey like this? First, that our life on earth is very short. Life is also precious, because it is intended to be a preparation for eternal life. God never intended humankind to be ignorant of the world to come, or our place in the universe. We were made in the image and likeness of God, and while our bodies are mortal, as they presently exist they are intended only to get us through this life. Money, power, possessions, and fame: all of this stays on earth. From the Lord’s point of view, we will see that our sufferings, united with Christ, have almost infinite value; that our obedience to God’s will and not just our own will alone has value in his eyes; that how we treat others is a measure of our true wealth in the next world; that our words and deeds should proclaim this good news of Jesus in the world in which we now live.