May 19, 2023
“…proclaim the change of heart that leads to forgiveness to all the world. You are eyewitnesses of these things. Now I hand over to you the command of my Father…” Luke 25:47-48 (JB Phillips Bible version, adapted)
The Ascension of the Risen Christ is the second leaving of Jesus. The first leaving was his death. After his rising and return, after sharing food and holy conversation with his beloveds, he left them again. In this leaving, the followers of Jesus were filled with joy and praise and hope, not bewildered in grief and sadness as with the first departure. They saw the Risen Christ. They witnessed the power of God over death. They were also entrusted with the life work of Jesus. As he blessed them and left them, he assigned them his life-saving work of proclaiming “the change of heart that leads to forgiveness.”
This is our assignment also. As ones who love and follow the Risen Christ, ones who have been changed in heart, who live lives of forgiveness, we are entrusted with resurrection work. The command of God is handed over to us. The command is to love: love God, love neighbor, love enemies, love others as you have been loved.
God’s love changes the heart. Love is the fuel from which forgiveness finds the capacity to restore life and freedom. God loves us, our hearts are changed, and we are set free. The words of Risen One in the second leaving were a final chorus of the sacred song: “Do to others, as has been done to you.” Love. Change hearts. Forgive. Set others free. Repeat. That is the Risen Life. That is the way, the truth, and the life.
Prayer: Holy One, give me the faith deep enough to practice resurrection. May I receive what you entrust to me, and generously share with those who need love, life, forgiveness, freedom, grace, and love. Amen. Alleluia.