Today’s homily is for The Ascension of the Lord, May 29, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
There is a popular song by country music artist, Garth Brooks, that I enjoy quite a lot, and has probably done more for my understanding of prayer than many years of education. You might know the song, “Unanswered Prayers.” The chorus is, “Just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean that he don’t care, some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.” I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted, but God gave me what I needed instead. Maybe you know what I’m saying. There are times when it’s a good thing I’m not in charge, because God’s plan is just that much better than mine–and he’s always just blowing me away.
Today’s Gospel is one of those times for the apostles. It would have made no sense to them that it is better that he go. Of course, they wanted Jesus to stay! If you let any one of the disciples decide, they would have kept Jesus right there with them–but Jesus’ impact would be greatly reduced.
They thought the best thing Jesus could do was to restore the Kingdom of Israel, Jesus, says, “I’m not just going to restore the kingdom of Israel, I’m going to restore the whole world by giving to the race of men, the very power of God. He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We always think small, but God thinks big.
Jesus didn’t just want to hang out with them for a few more years, Jesus was going to send them the promise of the Father. His plan was to “clothe them with the power from on high.” They just wanted some new sandals, maybe, he says, “You’re getting a whole new wardrobe,” but to get that Spirit from God, Jesus had to leave them.
I think life is like that sometimes. We have to let go, if we are going to receive. Too many times our hands are just too full of stuff to take hold of the gifts that God has prepared for us. I remember when my son, Mark, was just two years old. He was getting ready to walk down two steps to the garage. I put out my hand so he could take it. He looked at his right hand, and Thomas the train was in that hand. He looked at his left hand and Percy was in that one. He looked at my hand, his hand, his other hand, and he let go of Percy to grab my hand. Smart kid.
What an important lesson as this Easter season comes to an end. Our generous Lord wants to fill us with his Spirit and clothe us with power, but if we’re already full of the world, and our wardrobe is already too full; if we’re unwilling to empty ourselves, and unwilling to let go, we will not be able to receive the amazing gifts that God wants us to have. If we cling too tightly to our small minded wants, we will never reach for the power and lasting joy that God has prepared for us. Do not be afraid to let go. Let it go, God has the more for which our heart truly longs.