The Ascension of the Lord
Pope Benedict XVI taught, in a 2009 homily on the Ascension at the Benedictine Archabbey of Monte Cassino, that this solemnity
“invites us to contemplate the mystery of the Lord’s Ascension…[wherein] we [are] urged to fix our gaze on our Redeemer: who died ‘for sins once for all’ that he might bring us back to God, … [and who] ‘has gone into Heaven’ and is at the right hand of God ‘with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him’ (cf. 1 Peter 3:18, 22).”
Christ did not abandon the Apostles, nor does He abandon us, but is present now in a new and different way: a way of continuing presence that is closer and more intimate than His disciples experienced, up until the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, a way that sets aside the human way of clinging to Him, like Mary Magdalene at the tomb, for a newer, fresher, and ever more complete way of being in relationship with Him. This relationship is filled, not with worldly joy, but with the deep joy and peace that only God can give, a joy even greater than that joy the disciples experienced when Jesus departed (cf Luke 24:52).
Just as His followers were commissioned to bring the Good News to all nations, we, too, have been commissioned as priest, prophet and king by our baptism, to live the life of Christ in and through us, as co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord, by the example of our lives in our many different vocations and by our prayers. But, where Jesus is, we also will be. He rules from the throne of the Cross, the mercy seat of God. And, there is no Resurrection without the Cross, no ascending into glory without suffering first (cf Luke 24:26), no trouble-free life in this world (cf John 16:33).
But, take courage, He has conquered the world (cf John 16:33)! And, where He is, there also will we be. We can take great consolation that He has preceded us into heaven and there intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. We can take great joy that, as members of the Body of Christ, in communion with Him, we are already seated at the right hand of God.
Let us pray that, with all the helps He gives us–His grace, His mercy, the Blessed Mother, the Saints, the holy Angels, His Church to guide us–when our earthly journey is done, we will, like St. Paul, have competed well and finished the race, faithful to the end, so that we may also enter into the fullness of our Master’s joy, the Kingdom of God, prepared for us from the foundation of the world.
Behold, He makes all things new!