Updated: May 24, 2020
The Ascension can be a hard idea for people to understand. What does that have to do with me? What does the feast mean for us today?
Well for one thing, it’s not Jesus’ space trip up into the sky, but a translation of this earthly reality into the heavenly dimension. The Ascension is so intrinsically linked to the feast of Pentecost we will celebrate next Sunday - as Jesus goes up into the heavenly realm, the Holy Spirit descends into the earthly realm. The meeting of heaven and earth is a transfiguration of earth by heaven!
As the Church (a community of Jesus), we are transfigured by Christ and his heavenly power through the Holy Spirit from our baptism, it is our job - or it is more fitting to say the very purpose of our lives to bring earth and heaven together!
Great Christian architecture such as our Cathedrals and Churches don’t take us out of our reality, but remind us of our greater reality, pointing to heaven as heaven comes down to earth - so too must our work, daily routines, actions, words and thoughts point to heaven as we receive the graces of God descending upon us. When together we sing and pray “may our voices be one with theirs” - Fr John in the mass reminds us that we are in communion with all the angels and saints in heaven praising God. That is the one body of heaven and earth (all brother and sisters) united in the work of the Church!
In today’s Gospel of the Ascension of Jesus, the angels remind the disciples to stop standing around looking up into the clouds but to now go and do what Jesus did - do what you can to bring heaven to earth! The feast of the Ascension commissions us to do the work of the Church - spread the Good News, LIVE the Gospel, BE Christ to one another.
As Peter Varengo says, “unless we become responsible instruments of peace and concrete down-to-earth committed love, the Ascension of the Lord will only degenerate into the ultimate act of seperation of God from our world; His work, life and death, a meaningless sophism lost is some old dusty history books”.
Amongst the confusion, suffering and darkness of the world, we must be the visible presence of the invisible God. Sowers of truth, justice and peace. We are all children of God, destined to live in the fullness of life and love as a community with God - which can only be realised if we “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of age” (Matthew 28:18-20).