Translating God Into A Deed – The Feast of the Ascension

What are we to make of the Ascension, Jesus’ withdrawal from our sight, his physical absence from earth? Where is Jesus now?

Icon of the Ascension. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

As they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?’

(Acts 1:10-11)

I don’t think the men in white robes are waiting for an answer. Their question is suggesting that there is somewhere else to be looking. 

“God is not playing a great guessing game with us in which we all sit around and take a stab at who or what is going on behind a great cosmic curtain that has been drawn down before us. The withdrawal of God is not the occasion of amusement for the curious or of puzzlement for the metaphysicians. The withdrawal of God from our view is always a matter of justice, of God’s deflecting our eyes from God to the neighbor.” It is God “declining to made visible and palpable in order to incline us to justice for the visible neighbor and palpable stranger.” (John D. Caputo, On Religion, 202)

The Ascension is an invitation and insistence that we “[translate] God into a deed” (Ibid.). 

“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” (Matthew 25:37-39)


  1. this is an interesting idea. I prefer to think of God as a verb than a noun. (did you ever read the book “God is a Verb” by Rabbi David Cooper?– I loved it!) To say we translate God into a deed is interesting, but I feel that we are more truly trying to “see God in all things,” especially in the needs of others. Sometimes we get too taken up with thinking we can solve problems, and not finding the balance with just finding God, being present with God, in interconnection and interdependence. We may be too much on the side of doing, and not enough on the side of being. But we certainly do need people who live the Beatitudes! Today is the feast of St. Joan of Arc. Her courage still overwhelms me.


    1. Thank you for mentioning the book by Rabbi David Cooper. For me, I think, the consideration of God as a verb rather than a noun can be an eye-opening experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Martina, I appreciate the idea of God as a verb, an action, and have sometimes talked about God that way. I think, also, that we are the doers of God. We make God present when we respond to the needs of others. The kingdom comes in our doing love, forgiveness, hospitality, compassion, feeding, clothing, etc. I am not familiar with Rabbi Cooper’s book but will look it up.

      God’s peace be with you,


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