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“Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” This question is for all of us. For we also can at times get caught with little motion in our spiritual lives. And this is dangerous, as dangerous as putting your car into neutral and revving the engine. What’s going to happen when you do that? Bad things, really bad car-things are going to happen!
So, too, for us today, we must have a double-focus, never forgetting heaven while also not resting on our laurels, but putting things into gear.
What Jesus reminds us of today is that our focus must be where His focus is, and that is on the work of bringing the Good News to others. While the disciples are focused on the end-result, Jesus is focused on the process that gets us there. So also we must keep our eyes on the goal of heaven, but at the same time we cannot let ourselves be duped into thinking that we don’t have anything to do. The reality is that, although the Kingdom of God can only be brought about through the Lord, for some great mysterious reason He chooses to bring it about through you and me and what we do throughout our daily lives.
So when the disciples say “are you establishing the kingdom now?” Jesus says, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But 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." He turns their eyes to the mission. Although heaven is where our heart should reside, the only way to get there is how we live here on earth. If we want the mansion, we must live the mission.
And the great mystery is that the two are not in opposition with each other. This mystery is described by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity: If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next... It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither. The more we put our faith into practice, getting our hands dirty washing the feet of those around us and witnessing to the Lord Jesus in the way we love each other and with our proclamation of the Gospel, then we find the more we are truly happy, truly experiencing a foretaste of heaven. Because the road to heaven already is heaven. This is ultimately what we heard last week in the Gospel: “If you love me (heavenly mansion), keep my commandments (earthly mission).” The road to the mansion is the mission.
May this Eucharist help us to keep our heart in heaven while we do God’s work on earth.