Ascension of the Lord, May 12, Forty: a Sunday Scriptures blog

He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Biblical writers had different conventions for writing than we do. For example, the chronological order in which things happened was not as important sometimes as the meaning of what happened. “Forty days” carries enormous meaning. When the first Christians heard “40 days,” they would think of the 40 years in the desert. Then Moses and the Jews went into the desert as loosely connected immigrants fleeing oppression in Egypt. They emerged with a law and a new covenant, making them a truly new people of God. The early Christians also would think of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert (on which our 40 days of Lent is patterned). Jesus went into the desert as a devoted rabbi and emerged to begin proclaiming the new age of the Kingdom of God. So Acts’ use of “forty days” tells us that a transition is happening. The age of Jesus of Nazareth has ended, so a cloud took him from their sight. Now dawns the age of the Risen Christ and his Spirit. I feel fortunate to have seen strong signs of the Spirit in my lifetime. One was Vatican II, the Church council that began a renewal of the Catholic Church which is still being completed. Another, flowing from Vatican II, is the emergence of lay leadership in our Church. Today, non-ordained members of our Church, which is most of the Church, claim their baptismal identity and mission and use their many gifts and talents within its structures and also outside of it. They carry kingdom values into secular settings everywhere. Can you add your own signs that we are in the Age of the Spirit? This is a transition week, our mini “forty days,” as we pause and wait for next Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost.

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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