Today, we celebrate the ascension of Christ into heaven. It is a great Solemnity in the Church’s calendar. The Holy Mother Church keeps today as a Holy Day of Obligation. Thereby we have to keep it sacred and sacrosanct as Sunday.
After 40 days of His life on earth, Jesus ascends to where He comes from. The Ascension of Jesus into heaven proves His divinity. It certifies truly that He came down from Heaven.
This is so much different from Elijah and Enoch. These people according to the scriptures were taken.
The Ascension of Jesus is very pivotal to our faith because it is supposed to be one of the events that put a clear icon on the identity of Jesus. How can an ordinary person resurrect and ascend? This event is a certainty that Jesus is divine and not an ordinary prophet.
Usually, we focus on the crucifixion and the resurrection. But the ascension is pivotal, this is why Luke took it very seriously. Luke wrote two books on the origins of Christianity.
Volume one is the gospel that bears his name. Volume two is the book of Acts. And the ascension was so important for Luke, that he ends volume one with it (Luke 24:50-51), begins volume two by reporting it again (Acts 1:9-11), and then refers back to it several times in the book of Acts.
This notwithstanding, there are a few lessons we have to take home from the ascension event.
The End is always Full of Glory.
The Ascension of Jesus is the last day of Jesus on earth visibly and physically. The ascension of Jesus points to us, that there is always an end to every journey.
Life is nothing but a journey that comes to an end one day. His was a life of glory at the end. His suffering, death and resurrection were today summed up with this glorious event.
It also happened 40 days after the resurrection event. The number 40 signifies a journey of purification, sanctification and glorification or final victory at the end.
As we go through life, let us always look at the end product. The journey might be too painful but there is always an end to every journey. Glorification awaits us at the end. Let us not give up.
Heaven is our Inheritance.
Jesus’ ascension certifies that heaven is real. Where is He ascending to if not the place He came from? He promises to prepare a place for His disciples ( John 14:3).
Before the ascension, some disciples in Luke’s account of the ascension which we heard in the first reading, were asking Jesus “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
They had a mistaken view of Jesus and his mission. The Roman Empire spread east and conquered Palestine in 63 BC and these disciples mistakenly thought Jesus would do something to drive out the Romans and restore the kingdom to Israel.
The Apostles are still waiting for the Kingdom to be given to them. But that was not Jesus’ mission. They want to inherit the earth as many of us think.
We want to live here forever and acquire everything that can be acquired but sorry for us. This is not our home.
The inheritance is not the earthly kingdom, the inheritance is heavenly. It is a journey from the earth to heaven, from humanity to divinity.
Jesus’ journey is from humanity to the heavenly. It is also a lesson for us to look forward to our destination as we live in the world. We are the members of His body, so we are also ascending with Him.
He is still With Us through the Spirit.
Jesus does not return to Heaven to abandon us. He is more present to us than we are to ourselves. Jesus promises to be with us always until the end of time ( Matt 28:20).
He tells His apostles clearly that He is ascending to send them the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells us that it is to our advantage that He goes away (John 16:7ff) The Counselor, the Holy Spirit will teach us all things (John 14:25ff). He will guide us into all the truth (John 16:13-14).
When He comes, we shall receive power ( Acts 1;8). So Jesus goes so that with the Father, He might send the Holy Spirit to live within us as in a temple.
In this way, and through the Eucharist, He will dwell with us even more intimately than when He walked this earth
Secondly, the instructions above and that of the first reading of today indicated that the Apostles were to wait for the Holy Spirit, who was the gift of the Father.
This is crystal clear that the source of the Apostles’ strength and our strength is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church in the way of truth; the Gospel is to spread through the power of God, and not through human wisdom or strength.
At The Right Hand.
At the Father’s right hand, Jesus intercedes for us. The bible says, He is able, for all time, to save those who draw near to God through him, since He lives always to make intercession for them (Heb 7:25).
The Lord links his ascension to this special position when He says: Amen, amen, I say to you, He who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and greater works than these will He do because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:12).
He is there to grant us whatever we need because He has come to terms with us and understand our burdens and humanity. For He was once one with us.
We must Depart.
Just as Jesus ascended today, and put an end to His earthly existence. One day we must also depart. If we like, let us abandon our soul and build skyscrapers, answer titles and names etc All will disappear from our eyes one day.
The Ascension proves that heaven is real and human existence is a limited one. Let us then not live as if we are the Creators of the world. Who we are, what we are, and where we are, will come to an end one day.
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to ascend continually despite life struggles and challenges. I wish you heaven at last. Amen