Life is filled hopes and dreams is it not. Look at every stage of your life and probably even now and what do you find. You find that that you hoped for certain things or that you dreamed for certain things and maybe some of those hopes and dreams came true and maybe others didn’t. What about now? What are your hopes and dreams? I dare say that if I went around the gym today and asked that question, I would get allot of different answers, but most of us would probably say that we are hoping for something in the near future. Whether it is good weather, a raise at work, or getting out of the gym and back into the church; I don’t know what it is, but I bet if I asked around it would be pretty immediate wants and hopes. Maybe some of you would even have more pious ideas, like hoping your children would come back to church. But whatever those hopes and dreams are, in the immediate, they aren’t bad, but I think it shows that sometimes we take the most important things for granted.
You see, today’s feast of the Ascension, this feast that celebrates that after 40 days on earth after His resurrection, ascended to the right hand of the father, should draw us out of the immediate and with the apostles, in today’s first reading should leave us looking up to the heavens. We should be hoping for greater things than something in the next few months or even a year.
When is the last time you walked outside at night and just stared up into the heavens? I don’t know about you, but when I look up in the heavens, I am forced to step back and allow things to come into perspective. When I look up into the sky, I can’t help but realize how big and immense it is. When you see those stars that are so far away yet still their light reaches us, I can’t help but think of the massiveness and complexity of our universe. As I look up into the night sky, I can’t help but feel very small myself, realizing that I am just a little spec in a moment of time, in this great vast expanse that was created by God. I don’t know about you, but when I stare up into the sky, the world seems to come into perspective. Maybe it’s the humility, maybe it’s the realization of so many things greater than me. Maybe it’s because you can’t help important questions like how did I come into existence and why am I here. But as you look up and all those questions, at least for me, things begin to fall into perspective. I am filled with wonder and awe and the big picture begins to take shape.
Look I get it, we are busy knocking things off our checklist. We are just trying to get through the next day and it can be so easy for us to forget that our life has a purpose that is greater than just the next task that we need to complete. Like the apostles in today’s first reading, who were stunned as they watched Jesus ascend into the heavens onto to find themselves staring off into the sky, we too are called to stop for just a moment, to leave the world behind and to look up into heaven. Afterall isn’t that why we gather here each week? Isn’t it true that when we come into church, we are called to leave the world behind, to look up to God, to receive His nourishment, and to put life into perspective? Maybe we don’t get to see it in a gym like this, but this is why our church is built differently than any other building we enter. This is why the music that we sing at church isn’t like the music you hear on the radio. Because we are supposed to be leaving the world behind. When we walk through the doors of the church, we are supposed to experience as you will that we almost have one foot in heaven. That we get to take a time out and look up to heaven, to receive Jesus, to put life back into perspective, and only then to walk back out the doors of the church back to the messiness of life with that new perspective that God has given to each and every one of us.
You see, the ascension of Jesus was a reminder to the apostles and it is a reminder to each of us that we are only passing through this earth. Just as Jesus’ time on this earth was temporary and then we ascended to the right hand of the Father, so our lives too will come to an end and we will meet God in the next life. Today’s feast should draw our eyes heavenward and remind us that in the midst of the business and craziness of life, not to forget what life is all about. It should lead us to hope for heaven. Afterall, all of those immediate hopes and wishes don’t make any sense if we first don’t first hope for heaven.
Unless we realize heaven, everything else becomes vague and fuzzy. Even the idea of heaven seems just seems like this far off place over the horizon, rather than the finish line that you and I should be striving for. Look there are all kinds of things that we hope and wish for, but when we confront the reality that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, waiting for us, all of those things should be put in perspective. After all, if we find ourselves hoping for the next great thing, hope begins to run out. If you lose track of the finish line, the kingdom of heaven, If you keep in mind that the greatest hope we can have is to become saints, then the bigger picture falls into place and our hope never fades.
Look maybe you are one of these people who looks at the world and wonder what has happened. You read the news you hear all this bad news and you are about to give up, claiming it can’t be changed. I don’t know about that but I do know that I am not made for this earth. My goal in life is not to make this world the perfect place. My goal in life is to follow after Jesus Christ, to arrive at the kingdom of heaven, where each of us is called to be an eternal citizen. My friends, Jesus ascended to the right hand of the father and he waits there for us to join Him there. So then today as celebrate His ascensions; as with the apostles we watch Him go back to heaven, why not stop for a moment, allow our eyes to look heavenward, to allow ourselves to find the perspective we need, before leaving back into the craziness of the world. If we recall that heaven is our hope. If we strive day in and day out to achieve that hope, then my friends, the rest of life and the big picture all begins to fall into place.