“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.’”
What is this gospel that Jesus commissioned his disciples to proclaim? Jesus’ life gives us clues. He tells us that God is love. By Jesus’ example we know that we can have a relationship with God and best of all, that relationship doesn’t end with the end of our earthly life.
My mother passed away in January of this year. Mom was not exactly a religious woman. She believed in God and in an afterlife but she did not talk about God in a relational way. After my mother’s passing, I sat down to pray and found myself asking my mother what the afterlife was like. She answered in her typical New York accent, “Well, it is not what you expect.” That’s all she said. I began to think, “What do I expect? Am I expecting clouds and angels, lights and trumpet blasts?”
Jesus ascended to the Father. However, the Gospel also tells us that even after Jesus ascended, “the Lord was with them…” Jesus, in resurrection is also who and what we will be in resurrection, our humanity fully realized. No matter how deep my faith, I still have difficulty “knowing” what to expect in the afterlife. I really don’t like the idea of clouds and harps.
This weekend I will be home with my family to celebrate my mother’s life. As I go, I hold in my heart that death, resurrection and ascension are a mystery. Mom never told me what it was like, but rather she told me what it is not like, my “expectations”. She left the mystery of afterlife as Jesus did. However, Jesus did not leave us a mystery in the Good News that God is love and the Lord is with us right here, right now. It seems appropriate to celebrate my mother on the Feast of the Ascension. My siblings and I will let her go, not clinging to what we expect. But rather proclaiming to all creatures what we know, that God is love and love lives on.
Ana Cloughly, OSB