BASEBALL AND THE ASCENSION
It’s baseball season again! Many of us will gather in Washington’s newest cathedral down near the waterfront in Southeast D.C., for the great American liturgy…the cosmic contest between the forces of good (Nat-urally!) and evil.
My dad always wanted me to play baseball growing up, as he and my brother John did. But I am a klutz; I have no knack for the game. (I’m a bit better with theology.) I’ve since realized that baseball is an image for Jesus’ human journey, and by extension, the human journey that each of us is walking with Jesus. How can this be?
The journey of baseball is a path of four bases. The object of the game is to make the journey and return home. We set out, hoping for a single or even a double to get started. Now and then, we hit a homer, which takes us all the way…home. But more often we get on base, and then we depend on others to keep us moving along. The object of the game is to make the journey, and the return home again.
After Jesus made his earthly journey and finished his work, he returned home to God his Father. We mark this return with the Feast of the Ascension, which we celebrate today, Jesus has been born into the human family; he has taught, preached and healed many. He has suffered and died in solidarity with all humanity. He has risen to life again, in contradiction to the powers of evil and death.
And now, he comes full circle: he ascends to go home, to dwell fully with God. Jesus came forth from God, went on his journey, and returns to unity with God. This is heaven, however you choose to imagine it.
And this experience is not just for Jesus. By extension, it is for us, too. We Christians have (rightly) dwelt on Jesus being with us in our suffering. But we have often neglected to turn the page, and remember that we are with Jesus also in his Resurrection and his Ascension to his Father and ours. All that had been rent asunder is restored to unity; all that was conflicted is restored to harmony; all that had died returns to life in its fullness.
We spend much of our lives, it seems, out in left field, or in the dugout waiting to come to bat. But the game is about the journey…around those three bases, always heading for home. That journey demands our whole focus, our complete commitment. Where are you on the baseball field? Where do you long to be? JBM