The cord is cut
“Through his bodily ascension to the Father the physical connection between the risen Jesus and the infant church is dramatically changed. The cord is cut.”
Forty is the Bible’s way of saying “that’s how long it took for something to happen.” Forty points to fulfillment and transition throughout salvation history. This natural metaphor was based on the forty weeks ancients believed it took for a baby to come to full term.
We moderns know that most pregnancies take around thirty-eight weeks from the time of conception, but ancient people didn’t know exactly when that was. They estimated that conception likely happened in the middle of the fertility cycle, so they added two weeks to the thirty-eight and got forty. Thus, in scripture forty became the metaphor to refer to completion, fulfillment and transition.
The great transition of birth results in a totally new way of relating between mother and child. The cutting of the umbilical cord finalizes the transition and that’s when all the screaming and yelling starts!
Through his bodily ascension to the Father the physical connection between the risen Jesus and the infant church is dramatically changed. The cord is cut.
Prior to the Ascension for forty days Jesus appears physically and walks alongside, eats with and teaches the disciples. The relationship is physical, direct and vital, just like the relationship of a mother and her unborn child where it’s the mother’s physical body that does all the work: the cord feeds the baby, breathes the baby and even changes the diapers. But with the physical departure of Christ now the church must nourish itself, find inspiration and learn how to solve problems. At forty days the infant church has come to full term and as the physical cord with Jesus is cut the disciples begin to draw their life from the Father just as Jesus did while he was on earth. By devotion to the apostles teaching, community life, the breaking of bread and the prayers the infant church grows in her spiritual connection to God and the world.
An echo of the Ascension is present in every transition of our lives to remind us that “things have changed, you must grow, I will be with you.” Pondering vocation means pondering transition from seeking your own direction and fulfillment to seeking God’s direction and fulfillment for your life. Cutting that cord of self-reliance can feel overwhelming but take heart, there is only ten days between Ascension and Pentecost.
Trust God to walk with you, to feed you and direct you in your vocation, your own path back to the Father. If you do so you will help many, many others to taste the Divine abundance of God’s love as we all journey towards our ascension to the Father.
Integrating the following four elements can especially help young people meet the challenging transitions involved in fulfilling their vocation: regular scripture study, personal silent prayer, communal liturgical prayer and service to the poor. From these exercises comes the vitality, strength and wisdom of mature disciples and a mature church clothed with power from on high.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Canada Province
Feel free to contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at email@example.com to arrange for an appointment.