Looking Down1 June 2020
There are feasts in out tradition that don’t last long. For example, the Lord’s Ascension, for many people, is Christ’s return to heaven, leaving us alone to deal with what He bequeathed us: the Gospel, the life of the Church and the faith. And, looking up, we often wonder why He doesn’t come back down to order our lives. We have the impression that He’s forgotten us and that He Himself is waiting for the Second Coming to provide a definitive answer to the problem of death, to the problem of evil, to the problem of misery among people and in the world. The Ascension is associated with a return to the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Through the prayers’, with the end of the time of ‘Christ has risen’. There’s a kind of melancholy that the joy of the Resurrection has been completed and we’re returning to reality, which is dominated by loneliness.
But let’s try not to look up. Let’s not forget that Christ took our nature upon Himself and raised it on high, united with His divine nature and placing the human next to the divine. Once we realize that our perspective shouldn’t be to look up but rather to look down, then the feast acquires its true significance and the way we behave in the world will be completely different.
‘Looking down’ doesn’t mean ‘Looking with pride and arrogance’. It means that I haven’t exhausted my resources with what I see around me, but that I look at things with my eyes and mind open. I look all around, as far as I can. I make other people my brothers and sisters. Through prayer and love I try to find what comforts them. I don’t restrict myself to those who love me, but I make myself available to everyone. I don’t hide within an identity that tells me that my self is everything, but I offer myself. Looking down means that I’m willing to share what or Who gives me meaning. It means I’m not defeated by the pettiness of a morality that divides, but that I proceed to a way that unites. With generosity and nobility. Prepared to forgive. Because that’s the God in Whom we believe. The merciful, the forgiving. The willing. The forbearing. And me with Him.
Looking down doesn’t mean that I see what’s important and not what’s not important. Even if something hurts us, we know that it’ll be swallowed up among the things that are transient. What remains is the uniqueness of our self. The preciousness of love remains. The resolution to strive against evil changes us and changes others with us. And the most important of all is that Christ is our companion in life. He’s on high. And looking down as He does, we look down with Him. When we’re befuddled with sorrows and temptations, sometimes even by our wicked and fearful self, He becomes our support and keeps us from falling.
In our everyday lives, in our relationships with others in all that concerns us, let us look down humbly from on high. So that we may ascend!