After the Resurrection: What kind of Community will you build?
The Ascension – as an event by itself – is really simple: Christ returned to the Father – to Heaven, as we say. The reality is, it means that Christ has done his part, and now leaves the Apostles and Disciples to do their part. And we are those Disciples today.
What was then, and is true today, is that life has many moments of TRANSITION. The question is: how do we respond to moments of transition? Especially unplanned!
It was a scary time for the Apostles. I remember being trained to fly a plane and after six hours of having the instructor beside me, he stopped the plane at the end of the runway and jumped out! He said, take off and land three times by yourself!!!
That was scary: suddenly I could hear all the creaks and groans of the small aircraft and wondered if the plane would fall apart. But all was well… as you can see I’m still here.
When my last Grandmother passed away, our mother said to our Uncle: “well, I guess it’s up to us now.” This, despite the fact that Nanna was 93 years old and mum’s generation had already been doing things for many years: it was a comfort to know that Nanna was there= wisdom.
In all our lives, we have moments of transition. Last year, some of our youth graduated from University and are now looking for work and finding little. Other youth members completed school and face the scary world without family, no money and jobs: what to do?
Right now, in Kenya, we are in a national transition period: President Uhuru finishes after two terms (10 years). Some selfish people around the “circle of power” are afraid: will we be protected? Other selfish people are looking forward to positions of privilege and power.
However, the majority of people, the less wealthy, are concerned right now: three months before the election. In certain areas of Kenya, credible threats have been circulated: do not vote for a certain candidate, or bad things will happen after the election result. Certain Government Offices are poorly supervised due to electioneering by their seniors.
Just this week we heard about the terrible school shooting in Texas. 22 families torn apart – now starting a long period of agonising transition.
Thankfully, before Christ left the Apostles, certain things were said, and promises were made:
1. That suffering and death is followed by new life: if… = Christ’s witness.
2. “repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations.” = Baptism.
3. “And now I am sending down to you what the Father has promised.” = the Holy Spirit.
In other words, we need to navigate these moments of uncertainty and transition, not by ourselves, but with God’s presence and wisdom in our lives.
That comes both individually, but also requires the community dimension. I cannot interpret the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance for me personally: I need the reality of a community to give it context and proportion.
For the situation in Kenya, this is a great transition moment to remind each other of the need for national unity, not personal gain. This is the time to put tribal loyalties aside and look at each other as friends, as fellow Kenyans, as equal Kenyans.
It’s scary for many youth to leave school with no support base in place, but, if they work hard, listen for God’s Grace and participate in their community and family lives, they will prosper! Their lives will be much more enjoyable than being school children.
Likewise, for Kenya as a nation, working hard to build bridges between tribes and regions will bring greater happiness, peace and prosperity to all parts of Kenya. We need action & prayers. Turning inwards and looking after “myself” only leads to violence and unhappiness, despite the fact we may get something extra in the beginning.
The Ascension is not a loss, but an opportunity for the world to be better co-creators with God, rather than victims of the world. There is much to be done: the environment, rebuilding family unity (remove domestic violence), proper raising of children, and the elimination of corruption.
This next week is a period of waiting for the Holy Spirit. But also a period of planning what to do next. And, also, a time to heal our wounds and grieve our losses.
When I first became Mine Superintendent, it was a bit overwhelming, especially the responsibility to ensure all the workers are safe. The only way forward was to create processes, checks, and regular communication with all sections. Then, to be present every day to all the workers. It was a team effort, and that is the same for life.
As you navigate this week of waiting for Pentecost, reflect on whether you try to do too much yourself, instead of involving others more? And how much do we help the community?
By Gerard Conlan, OMI