What is the connection between Jesus’ first day on earth and his last day – the Incarnation and the Ascension?
When the Divine Light began its awesome descent – a journey of higher world to lower world for endless worlds, condensing its unbounded state again and again into finite packages until focused to a fine, crystallized resolution in the form of a vulnerable human baby – it did so with purpose: to bring forth a world of continuous ascent. Jesus did not arrive with trumpet blasts, ‘here I am, now all will be well’ – end of story. For the secular world that is almost the end of the story that began with shelves full of decorations and gift ideas as early as October, all over and done with in the Boxing Day sales, with the possible exception of the Easter Eggs quickly filling those now empty shelves.
Since that beginning, not a day has passed that does not transcend its yesterday.
Like a mighty river rushing to reach its ocean, no dam can hold it, no creature can struggle against its current. If we appear to fall backward, to take a wrong turn, to lose a day in failure – it is only an illusion, for we have no map to know its way. We see from within, but the river knows its path from Above. And to that place Above all is drawn. For the true believer, no rush to refill the shelves counts as from Above.
We are not masters of the river – not of our ultimate destiny, nor of the stops along the way, not even of the direction of our travel. We did not create the river – its flow creates us. It is the blood and soul of our world, its pulse and its warmth. The legend of St Christopher[i] teaches us that a vulnerable Child is in charge of the flood, not us. When no ferry or bridge can be found, to whom do we turn.
Yet of one thing we have been given mastery: Not of the journey, but of our role within it. How soon will we arrive? How complete? How fulfilled? Will we be the spectators? Or simply the props? Or will we be the heroes?
With Jesus we are asked to journey to the Ascension, (a much neglected feast), and be ready to receive his final gift, also indicated by the three Magi way back in December when both the earthly and the heavenly journey began.
[i] I firmly believe the legend, (perhaps myth?), of St Christopher was a desire of the Church to masculinise the cult of Mary. Mary, Mother of God, the carrier of God, the original Corpus Christi, and Christopher, the carrier of the Child Jesus, the Son of God.