The Ascension

The feast day of the Ascension that we celebrate today is probably for many of us a fest day that we find it hard to understand or explain. We often think of this feast day as the day Jesus left us. To think this way we miss the whole point of the NT. The first reading in our mass today taken from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, says: “In my earlier work” he is referring here to his gospel, I dealt with everything that Jesus did here on earth up to his resurrection. Now in this second volume, I will tell you what Jesus continues to do not in his historical body but in his mystical body, the church. That’s’ why we should not look on this feast day as the day Jesus left us. St. Luke says during forty days Jesus told them about the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God? It means the coming of the reign of God on earth as He reigns in heaven. This is linking together heaven and earth. The life and ministry of Jesus, culminating in the resurrection is when the reign of God commences. Through the ministry of the apostles it will continue to grow, deepen and spread. There’s an ancient legend about the ascension of Jesus into Heaven. When Jesus reached Heaven his body still showed the wounds of his crucifixion. When the people in Heaven saw these marks, they were astounded at how much he suffered. A person in heaven asked him: “Do all the people on earth know and appreciate how much you went through for them and how much you love them? “Only a handful of people in Palestine know”, “I am counting on Peter, James and John and their friends to tell the rest of the world” “What if they get frustrated and forget or begin to doubt you?” “Have you a backup plan?” “I decided against a backup plan,” said Jesus. Twenty-one centuries later Jesus still has no backup plan. He counted on Peter, James, and John and they didn’t let him down. He counted on our parents, grandparents, priests, and religious and they did not let him down. Now Jesus counts on us, will we let him down? In our first reading today he told them not to leave Jerusalem until you receive the HS. The HS will help you to spread the kingdom of God. This is how Jesus is acting to establish the kingdom of God on earth. He has taken his place in Heaven so that he can direct operations from here through the Holy Spirit. He didn’t go away. We have the great privilege of participating in this work of bringing about the kingdom of God on earth.The Ascension shows us the goal of our earthly journey. It gives an eternal dimension to our lives. One of the consequences of our materialistic and secular society is that so many people have lost sight of the eternal dimension of their lives. When these people are faced with suffering, death, and failure they do not know how to handle it. Why is depression and suicide so endemic in our society today? A lot of you have heard of Hal Roach. One of Hal’s ambitions was to see his name on billboards in Las Vegas (entertainment centre of the world) but this all changed when his handicapped son was born. He came to realise his dependence on God and the powerlessness of human nature. Recently I was talking to a person who a couple of weeks ago, was told that he would probably not see another Christmas; how many people do we know who will probably not see another Christmas, this puts everything into perspective. Let us not fall into the trap of thinking that what we have here is the be-all and the end all. Let us look upwards and think of what lies beyond this life. We must enjoy life, be happy, Carpe diem (seize the day) as the Latin Poet Horace said, but never loose sight of what lies beyond this life