The Solemnity of the Ascension can be eclipsed for most of us by the Resurrection, Good Friday, and Christmas. For me, the Ascension is a liturgical feast that draws me inward and upward. Pope Benedict stated in his homily for the Ascension in 2013: “Christ’s Ascension means that he no longer belongs to the world of corruption and death that conditions our life. It means that he belongs entirely to God. He, the Eternal Son, led our human existence into God’s presence, taking with him flesh and blood in a transfigured form.”
My human existence led into God’s presence as Jesus took with him flesh and blood in a transfigured form….
My human existence led into God’s presence…
My human existence…
St. Augustine said that although Jesus ascended to the Father alone, “we also ascend, because we are in him by grace.”
We are led by Christ into the new world of the resurrection, where all the members of his body are drawn upwards to the Father in heaven.
The apostles, in the reading today, were still wondering when Jesus was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. His answer to them is that they “would receive power” when the Holy Spirit was given to them:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
In other words, Jesus directs their attention to this “new world of his resurrection.” After being brought to the life by the Spirit, they were to set their minds and hearts on things above where Christ is, not on earthly things (cf. Col 3:1-2).
In the early Church the Christians placed the Christ of the Ascension in the dome of their Churches to remind them that Christ ascended to his Father in heaven and that he was returning.
“Come, Lord Jesus!”
In a world of turmoil and crisis in which so many are suffering unjustly and needlessly, we can pray daily, “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
“Come, Lord Jesus!”
Perhaps we feel that we cannot effect the change the world so needs, but we can be that change. With our faith in Jesus Christ who is real, the strength of our belief in the kingdom present and among us in Christ who is close to us in our every need, we can experience how we are changed, how heaven is present on the earth and every sorrow, every closed door, every crisis is but a window to his drawing us with him to the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Photo Credit: Wolfgang Sauber, <a href="http://CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons