This past week, for a myriad of reasons, my opinions about love and hope have been challenged and put to the test. It is a test I pray that I’m passing (I never was a failure in school…).
There are many questions this week that I keep coming back to, chief among which sounds something like this: what am I hoping for? Is this false hope, or hope from God? When I find that the world around me and the dreams for which I’d be longing seem to be crashing down I find myself clinging to hope. Hope that things will change, that the happy fairytale ending will still be mine, and that happiness and joy will return to my heart. As I keep hoping I can’t help but wonder how far this hope should go? At what point do I sound like a crazy person for clinging to this hope? Is there ever a point that I seemed sane for clinging to hope?Last night at Mass, I got my answer.
Yesterday in the fair Archdiocese of Denver we celebrated the feast of the Ascension. [Some dioceses celebrate the feast of the Ascension on Thursday, others move it to a Sunday.] Jesus is leaving us. Most of the time I see this as a joyous occasion, Jesus, after all, is finally ascending to Heaven to be reunited with His Father. This year I see it as Jesus leaving us. Sure, the Holy Spirit is coming and remains with us, but my focus this year preparing for this feast has been the reality that Jesus is leaving us. In our lives we find a lot of the time that people leave. Peyton on One Tree Hill used to say that people always leave. Family moves away, our friends change, loved ones walk out, the reasons may be as numerous as the stars but people always leave. What I seem to have forgotten about, at least until last night, is that while people may leave, they also come back. Last night the vocations director for the Archdiocese said Mass and he spent a great deal of time talking about Heaven and the reality that Heaven is more than just a nice idea or some lofty goal to attain. Heaven is real. What is more, in Heaven we are all united. People may always leave, whether they leave town, or they leave this world behind, they always leave – including Jesus – but the beautiful truth of our faith is that they are never truly gone. We are united to them through the Eucharist. We are united to them in the heart of Jesus. He holds us all in our hearts so by staying close to His heart we remain close to those who have left us.
But the story doesn’t end there. By staying close to Christ’s heart we are also invited to Heaven where, at long last, we shall be eternally united to all who have left us and all we have left. We will be united with loved ones who have died, friends we have lost touch with and more. In Heaven, at the glorious feast of eternal bliss we shall forever be united with the very people we have missed and longed for all of our earthly lives. So if people have left you, if you find that your heart is broken, take comfort in the fact that someday, when Jesus finally calls you Home, not only will you be united with Him, you will be united with all those people you’ve been missing for so long. Heaven is real. People never truly leave because they always stay in Jesus’s heart where we too are invited to find rest. Our hope then is not in vain, even if we may not always seem sane for clinging to it. Our hope is in You, God, the Light of the World. Our hope is that one day, perhaps in this life, but for certain in the next, we shall be reunited to those whom we love. Let Him ascend into Heaven for He leaves us the promise that we too will join Him in the place where love never dies, in the the place where no one leaves, where there is no pain, only love. Eternally.
What I’m Listening To:
“I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin
“Carry Me Through” by Dave Barnes
“Savior, Please” by Josh Wilson
“Jesus, Messiah” by Chris Tomlin