Forty days ago we celebrated the great feast of Easter; a feast so great that the Church celebrates it for 50 days. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord.
Imagine if you will, being with the Apostles and other disciples on the Mount of Olives on that day. Since Jesus' resurrection He has spent these last 40 days appearing to and spending time with the Apostles, but they knew that Jesus must return to His Father in heaven. In fact Jesus told them that they should be glad that He was going so that He could send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit to continue to teach them and help them to spread the Gospel.
I am sure that the Apostles, being human, must have felt a combination of feelings on that first Ascension Thursday~ feelings of anticipation, trepidation, excitement, and perhaps a bit of sorrow at not having Jesus with them in bodily form any longer. I would also like to think that these men of faith had learned a thing or two since Jesus' Passion, Death and Resurrection, about what their faith means. They have come to know Jesus not just as their friend, but as the Messiah. Jesus told them that He leaves them His peace, the peace of His Presence with them always, the peace of the promise of eternal life with Him one day.
As Jesus is taken into heaven, an angel appears and asks the disciple why they are looking to the sky, for Jesus will return one day just as He is ascending now.
We too are on that mountain, and like the disciples of that day, we, Christ's disciples today have the peace that He gives in His Presence with us in the Eucharist, and in the promise of eternal life with Him after living out His commandments of love in this life.
So as the Apostles longed for Jesus' return, so do we. In the meantime we are to live as the Apostles did spreading the Gospel so that we may be with Him in the place He has prepared for us.
In Jesus' Ascension is also our own. Pope Benedict XVI says this best when he says that: "The meaning of Christ's Ascension expresses our belief that in Christ, the humanity we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God."Magnificat's commentary on this goes on to say that: "It would be a mistake to think of Christ's Ascension as His temporary absence from the world, but rather we go
to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into Him. Heaven is a person: Jesus Himself is what we call heaven".