by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
This is one of those times when if we listen carefully to the readings, we discover that the Gospel, especially what I’m talking about, is not a historical document really. It’s not a biography of Jesus. It’s the recollections of the disciples over a few decades that were passed on by word of mouth, then only gradually written down. But the main point of what was collected and written down was not historical, not biographical, but theological. It’s about God and God revealed to us in Jesus.
I mention this because if you take time to compare the different accounts of the resurrection, and now today of what we call the Feast of the Ascension, Jesus returning to heaven, we discover there are many discrepancies and contradictions and just a whole variety of descriptions of what supposedly happened. But we’re not intended to look at these in that strict historical or biographical sense.
Just for example, even Luke in the first lesson today, whose account of the Ascension is that elaborate story that we’re told about how Jesus had spent the 40 days over the period of time with the disciples instructing them and eating with them, rejoicing with them, and then gathers them together and is carried up above the clouds. In Luke’s Gospel, and the same author, it happened at Easter Sunday night. He simply mentions that Jesus, after speaking with the disciples, ascends to heaven. That’s all there is to it, but it’s on Easter Sunday night….