Margaret and I went to the Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in October of 1988. That was thirty years and seven months ago, but I still remember it to this day. The outdoor amphitheater is a beautiful setting and lends itself well to the authenticity of the play. Three things especially stand out for me today as I reflect upon the Solemnity of the Ascension.
First, the crucifixion scene still impacts me. Actually seeing a live person on a cross made it quite real for me. While I have looked at a crucifix thousands of times, seeing an actual person on a cross prompted a feeling of anguish that I could not shake for some time. What a horrendous way to die!
The resurrection scene was a startling experience as an explosion jolted the amphitheater and bright lights shone on the tomb as the stone rolled away. While this is theatrics utilizing a variety of methods to heighten our senses, it was indeed quite dramatic.
Finally, the play came to an end with the Ascension of our Lord. By the end of the play the darkness of night had covered the amphitheater. The moon and stars were the only natural lights. The theater controlled the rest of the lighting. Jesus was speaking with the disciples and suddenly darkness enveloped the entire outdoor theater. Then, a single spotlight was focused directly on Jesus. We watched in amazement as he was lifted through the trees and up the side of the hill until he vanished from sight. Wow!
This was all theatrics, and yet, it was mesmerizing. I can only imagine the emotions of the disciples as they lived through these experiences.
Jesus told the disciples to remain in the city until they received power from on high. Pentecost would bring them that power. In like manner, you and I have also received that power from on high. Through our Baptism, our anointing with Sacred Chrism in the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the graces we have received in the other sacraments, power from on high has been bestowed upon us in abundance. Are we open to these graces? Are we living our lives utilizing the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
We pray the Creed each week and profess what we believe. Does it make any difference in the way we live?
At each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we seek God's mercy in the penitential rite. We give glory and praise to God as we sing the Gloria. We are nurtured by the proclamation of the Sacred Scriptures. We are nourished by the Eucharist--body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. All of this comes together to fully equip us for mission as we are sent forth at the end of Mass to "Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life." Are we in tune with any of this? Is it making a difference in the way we live?
We cannot afford to grow complacent or apathetic in our walk with the Lord. We are called to bring the Good News of Salvation to the ends of the earth. I encourage you to allow the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit to truly impact your life. Believe in the words of John's Gospel chapter 14 verse 12 where Jesus says, "The works that I do, and greater still, you will do because I am going to the father." That is the power Jesus is talking about. Do we believe it, or do we not?