Forty days after the Resurrection of Jesus, the Church celebrates His ascension. Throughout most of the world this feast was celebrated last Thursday known as Ascension Thursday. In some places (our archdiocese, for example), however, this feast is transferred to Sunday.
Before His ascension, Jesus told His apostles that there were many mansions in His Father’s house and He was going to prepare a place for all of us. Does the Ascension affect our daily lives? In his writings, St Augustine proclaimed – “Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.”
On this Ascension Day, we too may want to pause and look towards that heaven where Jesus went with the promise to prepare a place for everyone. Someday we shall go to claim that place. What a day that will be when we join not only the members of our family who have gone before, but all those other wonderful people we have known – people who have been good to us, helped us, encouraged us, prayed for us, stood by us when the going was rough, people who were our heroes and role models. We have all this to look forward to, along with the promise of knowing and sharing in the very life of a good and loving God. Is it any wonder that we should want to take time today to pause knowing that some day we will find the fulfilment of the deepest longing of our hungry hearts?
Before ascending, Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach to all the nations, to the ends of the earth. As disciples we certainly have our work cut out for us! As individuals, we do not have to go everywhere to witness to Jesus. Rather, we witness to Him in whatever place on earth we find ourselves – in our homes, at work, on the street, in a vehicle or even on a hospital bed. God’s mercy gives us the strength to witness to Jesus to the ends of the earth – one place at a time.
The good news that we celebrate today is that Jesus lives on. But where does Jesus live? He lives not just in heaven where He ascended but at the very centre of our lives. It is up to us to show in convincing ways that He is alive in us. The Gospel, the Good News we are to proclaim is that our lives have been changed because of the One who lives in us.
Our Christian life should be one of looking up with faith and hope. A hope this world desperately wants and needs. Christ did not just disappear. He ascended before the eyes of witnesses. He ascended with promises – He will be with us always, until the end of time. He has gone to prepare a place for us and He will come again. This we believe. This we expect.
The idea that Jesus ascended to heaven and is sitting at the right hand of the Father was meant to remind us that Jesus is now actively interceding for us with the Father.
His role in the Church has not ceased but has been intensified. He is closer to us and has sent the Holy Spirit whose coming to us we celebrate on the Feast of Pentecost.
Today, Ascension Day, is a good day to remind ourselves that we are a part of the Church and a good day to ask ourselves some questions:
• What quality would best describe me as a member of the Church?
• In what ways do I continue Christ’s ministry?
• Do I show in many convincing ways that Christ is alive?
• How strong is my conviction that I am a follower of Christ? – Ruby Nelson, Archdiocesan Catechetical Office