A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Ascension Means No Plan B

Occasionally a legend surfaces which expresses a profound truth in an imaginative way and encourages those who hear it to get on with their Christian life with renewed energy. One I heard recently was a variation of an older one. It fits the Feast of the Ascension and goes like this.

When Jesus returned to heaven after the Ascension, the Archangel Gabriel, who always spoke for the others, asked the Lord who would tell the people on earth that God loves them unconditionally, now that he was no longer there. The Lord answered:

“The apostles, my disciples.” Whereupon Gabriel said:

“The same ones who betrayed you and ran away when the going got tough?”

“Yes, the same ones” answered the Lord.

“No plan B?” asked the Archangel. And a hush came over heaven.

“No plan B.” answered the Lord. There was a collective angelic gasp.

And the rest is history, as the saying goes. Which includes the promise of the Lord being with the church all days until the end of time, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, which amounted to the same thing. After Pentecost the apostles and disciples were caught up in a surge of irresistible energy which spread out over the world. Their weaknesses and past failures were irrelevant. In the reading from Acts this morning the Lord says to Paul as he enters Corinth: “Do not be afraid to speak out. I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will attempt to harm you.” No wonder Paul felt bullet-proof.

And this rest of this story is being worked out in 2012 now in our lives. I have heard no messages from the Lord that he is no longer with us, or that he has another plan. All the disciples of the Lord are the ones who are chosen and sent to tell the world that God loves them unconditionally and wants them to be happy. From the leaders to the least.

I have just read of a new Archbishop who has hit the ground running, vowing to grow ‘a more missionary church, one looking outward, not inward.’ This applies to each one of us disciples, in our own situation, even if it is just praying for a missionary.  There’s no sense waiting for someone else to do it. There is no Plan B – we are it.

When the church seems mired in human weakness, the best way through is new missions and new beginnings. That will heal the church of much of what is wrong. We shall all be too busy to fret.

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