June 2, 2019 at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Naples, FL
Acts 1, 1-11 + Psalm 47 + Ephesians 1, 17-23 + Like 24, 46-53
There is a little story about young man in his twenties, walking along a city street. He spotted a hundred-dollar bill, and felt really good about it. Ever there after he decided to keep looking down where ever he went. By the time he was seventy, had had collected a lot of stuff: hundreds of wallets with credit cards and IDs, and the money he collected became quite a sizeable amount. From time to time he gathered some valuable stuff: he picked up at least ten mobile phones and i-pads. But above all, he also ended a hunch-back, unable to look anyone in the face.
This feast today invites us to look up. To have our eyes fixed on heaven. Now, to those first disciples of Jesus who produced this Gospel, the whole idea of looking up came naturally because this description in Luke’s Gospel would have reminded them immediately of something they knew from the First Book of Kings. You see, they knew the Old Testament a lot better than most of us. So, I have to tell you about it, but they got it immediately. In the second chapter of First Kings it tells of how one day Elijah was with his disciple Elisha near the river Jordan. Suddenly there appeared a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire. Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind as Elisha looked up to heaven. The old prophet left his cloak behind for his disciple to put on. From that time Elisha received the spirit of his master and was empowered to continue his mission in the world. In fact, from then on Elisha was able to perform the same deeds as his master. Luke, inspired in his writing, wants us to make a connection here.
Too often too many spend too much of their lives looking down; looking down on others, looking down on themselves, looking back down the past at old hurts and offences. Disciples of Jesus cannot do that. Disciples of Jesus are people who look up, who look ahead, who look for the constant signs of Christ’s promise to stay with us always. They look up in respect and love to all of God’s creation. We are people filled with the same Spirit that moved Jesus Christ to look into the eyes, the hearts, and the lives of lepers, the blind, the deaf, those pushed to the margins of society and see the face of their creator. You can’t see that looking down.
This place here in Naples is our Jerusalem. We gather in this holy place like those disciples who returned to Jerusalem to be clothed with power from on high. That power from on high is going to wrap around us all in just a few moments as we receive and put on, in a sense, the Body of Christ. Yet this communion is much more than “the body of Christ.” It is his life, his Spirit, his very soul and divinity. As always, we think it’s about us. We like think: “In going to communion” or “I’m going to receive holy communion.” Did you ever stop think that it might just be the other way around? We’re not just receiving communion or going to communion. Christ is receiving us. Christ is taking over our lives. We’re about to be possessed, possessed as his own. His Spirit becomes our Spirit, and from now on just like Elisha, we continue the mission of our master, and in fact, we can perform the same deeds as our master who went about forgiving and healing what was broken. We ought to try it, but it’s only going to be possible for those who look up and look ahead.