In some places, today is the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord. Here in the Diocese of Wilmington, we will celebrate the Ascension this Sunday, so today's readings are from the regular Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter. The Gospel (John 16:16-20) is an amusing interplay between Jesus and His followers. The back and forth of "a little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me" seems to have confused them thoroughly. With our advantage of hindsight, we can think about how the Lord was present physically up until the time of his death, then was not seen for the three days, rose and was with them for forty more days, then ascended. Naturally they were expecting Him to return quickly again. He did, but not in the way they expected. Ten days after the Ascension, the Holy Spirit cam to them as He promised (I will send my Spirit upon you"). From that time on, the Lord has been present, but not in the physical way that they expected.
And even today, this is how Jesus is present to us. I think that every person of faith can recall at least one time when they felt the presence of the Lord very strongly. It may have been during an illness, while grieving the loss of a loved one, or a time of great joy, sadness, anger or hurt. This inner realization of the Lord's presence usually comes about when, as He said, two or three are gathered in His name. When we interact with others in the name of the Lord, He is present in a special and powerful way. That is why, for example, Paul had such success spreading the "Good News" to the Gentiles. He was not alone, but rather traveled with at least one companion. And by preaching "in the name of the Lord", Jesus was also present. And so miracles happened. It continues today. When we unite with at least one other believer and say or do things in the name of the Lord, He joins us. And so He is present in the world today.
All of us who are believers have a big responsibility. We are called to bring Christ to the world. And let's face it, the world desperately needs His presence, even if many do not believe that. So, how about we start today. To whom will you bring the presence of the Lord? How will you respond to those who say they do not see the Lord present in their life? Let's join together and make a difference - in His name.