When I read this week's Gospel I asked myself, "What on earth are you going to say about this one?" The next thing that came to mind was, what an odd expression. What on earth? I Googled it hoping to learn about the expression's origin. What I found were a lot of questions by non-English speakers trying to understand this and various other idioms. Sometimes familiar things cause us to skip over things and take them for granted. This Gospel deserves more of our attention. Check it out.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God. Luke 24:46-53
The disciples have just witnessed Jesus' ascension to heaven. Just a few short weeks before they were completely devastated by His brutal death. Then they were astounded at His resurrection. Now... The disciples have just witnessed Jesus' ascension to heaven! This is totally unprecedented! The disciples have just witnessed Jesus' ascension to heaven!! It deserves repeating. THE DISCIPLES HAVE JUST WITNESSED JESUS' ASCENSION TO HEAVEN!!!
What on earth? NOTHING!! There is nothing on earth that compares to the return of the incarnate Jesus to His place in heaven. We can study this like an "idiom" that is foreign to our way of life. But the reality is that there really isn't anything in our world that compares. Therefore, we have to accept it in faith. "What on earth" was this other-worldly event that happened 2000 years ago. What we believe as Christians should cause others to say, "What on earth?" Think about it again.
The disciples have just witnessed Jesus' ascension to heaven. WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU BELIEVE?!