WHAT DOES THE ASCENSION MEAN FOR US?

Fausto Gomez OP

The Lord’s Ascension is an integral part of the Paschal Mystery, which began with the death and resurrection of Jesus, continues with his Ascension, and closes with Pentecost, or the Coming of the Holy Spirit. The Ascension signifies the triumph, glorification and enthronement of Jesus in heaven at the right hand of God the Father.

The Ascension is not a change of place for Jesus. Jesus is in heaven beyond time and space, and he is with us in our time and place.Jesus went up to heaven to prepare a place for his disciples.

(1) Jesus is going up to heaven but not as he came down from heaven. Why? Because Jesus came down from heaven as the Son of God, and He goes up to heaven as the Son of God and also as the Son of Mary: as our Lord and brother!

(2) Jesus goes up to heaven without really leaving us. Before going up to heaven, He told us: “I will be with you until the end of time.” Remember when Saul (later St Paul) was persecuting the Church, on his way to Damascus? “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  Saul was persecuting the community of disciples, the Church, Christ who is the Head of the Church.

Jesus lives and continues being present in the Church. He continues to be with us in theHoly Eucharist: “This is my Body,” “this is the chalice of my Blood.” He is present inthe poor: “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.” He is also present in the prayer of the members of the community: “If two or three of you meet in my name, I will be in your midst.” Jesus told us of the presence ofthe Blessed Trinity in our hearts: “If you love me, you will keep my word and my Father will come to you and make our home in you.”

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

First, let us reaffirm our faith in Jesus – in his Gospel, in heaven. Saint Paul tells us that we are citizens of heaven. Here on earth, we are tent dwellers. Once I asked a 90-year old Dominican priest: “How are you today?” His answer: “Very well, one day closer to heaven.”

Second, let us proclaim Jesus in our life, let us be witnesses of his life, death and resurrection.On one hand, we fight what takes us off the road to heaven: sin, selfishness, and not forgiving others; wasting things when people are dying of hunger. On the other hand, we practice what takes us to heaven – and to happiness here and hereafter: prayer, compassion, forgiving, generosity, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and of the Sacrament of Penance.

WHERE IS MY HEART?

There was an old man trying to climb the Himalayan Mountain on a cold and rainy winter day. The old man stopped for a while in an inn along the path to the top. The innkeeper asked the old man: How will you ever get to the top in this kind of weather? The old man answered: “It will not be so difficult: my heart got there first, so it is easy for the rest of me to follow.” Dear co-pilgrims, where is our heart? St. Paul tells us: “Look for the things above.” And St. Augustine: “Today Jesus went up to heaven, let out hearts go with him.”

To Jesus, the Risen and Glorified Lord, who is seated at the right hand of the Father, we go with our prayer and ask him to intercede for our suffering humanity, for each one of us. To him belongs the glory and the power and the honor forever and ever. Amen. Alleluia.

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