Acts 1:1-11; Responsorial Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23;
Gospel Acclamation Matthew 28:19A & 20B; Matthew 28:16-20
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. What knowledge is Paul referring to by greeting the Ephesians with this sentence?
In today’s readings and those we have heard over the past several weeks, we are hearing a summary of the lessons Jesus taught the disciples during the three years he was with them and during the days since the Resurrection. These are lessons they have heard before; they know what Jesus has taught. At least they have what we would call the ‘book knowledge’. But do they really know? Have they internalized these lessons? Have they reached the point of having knowledge of Jesus?
In Spanish there are two words for to know – saber and conocer. Saber refers to skills or things that I have learned, such as, I know about the train accident; it was on the news. Conocer refers to knowledge through experience, such as, ‘I know what it’s like to be in an accident with a train; my oldest brother and I lived through that when I was in high school.’ That is my experience.
At some point in your lives you have probably had the occasion to internalize, to experience, conocer, a lesson that you had previously learned. Perhaps it was something that was just a part of your life but at a certain point in time, you had that uh ha moment – now I get it! For myself, I often heard the lesson that Jesus loves me, that Jesus loves everyone and that I too should love everyone. I learned songs of Jesus’ love for me and I believe that Jesus loves me. But it wasn’t until I had a profound prayer experience as a novice that I internalized that lesson. That is when I can say ‘conozco el amor de Cristo’, I know the love of Christ. It is this type of experience that compels one into action – that guides Ones life.
The disciples, after being with Jesus after the resurrection and hearing a summary of all he had taught them before his crucifixion are still asking Jesus if he is going to restore the kingdom of Israel. They still don’t get what Jesus is all about. And then Jesus ascends to Heaven, and they are looking intently at the sky. I wonder if some of them were wondering what was happening, if some were marveling at Jesus going up to the heavens and if others thinking to themselves ‘I get it. I know the lessons he has taught and that I must proclaim him to the world. I can do nothing less.’ Did some in this group of followers internalize the lessons, did they come to know Christ, ¿conocen a Cristo? And now what were they to do? They are told to wait for the Paraclete, for the Spirit, who will provide all they need to go forth with their mission of proclaiming Jesus to the world. They had to keep waiting, but now they know that they have not been abandoned by God. But they could not go out yet and teach as Jesus had taught them. Jesus knew that they were not yet ready for what was to come. They were being prepared for the mission ahead.
We are in a state of waiting. Waiting for this stay at home order to end. Waiting for the time when it is safe to resume our normal lives – whatever normal will be. In our waiting we are taking time to do those things we haven’t had time to do because we’ve always been so busy. Now we are spending more time in private prayer, more of us are coming to communal prayer more often, we are finishing the handcraft projects started long ago, we’re having phone or zoom conversations with Sisters, family members and friends we haven’t spoken with in a long time, and the list goes on. While we are socially distanced by not being able to be on the run with our friends, we may actually be getting closer to them by truly visiting with them when we do talk. We are improving our relationship with our God, our friends and family members, and yes even with our own self as we now are taking the time to be alone in the silence. We are waiting and we are gaining in knowledge of all those with whom we are in relationship.
What was different for the disciples when their waiting was over? What will be different for us and our society when this waiting is over? Will we maintain the relationships that have grown and developed over these weeks of waiting? Will we maintain our times of slowing down and not always needing to be busy? I pray that we and our society will remember not just the hardships of these months but the joys of coming to know each other again in families and in communities. When will our time of waiting be over? We don’t know that. We do know because we have the knowledge of Jesus, that intimate relationship, that he is with us always, just as He told his disciples – I am with you always, until the end of the age. That will never change.
I will give you a new heart, and place a new Spirit within you. Ezekiel 36:26