Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven. That is, He ascended into heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father as what our Apostles’ Creed telling us.
The Gospel reading that we use today concludes the Gospel of St. Matthew. It is at this point that Jesus, knowing He is about to return to His Heavenly Father, commissions the apostles to carry the message of the Good News into the whole world. They would baptize, make more disciples, and teach His message that He taught them. Jesus makes it clear that His ascension does not mark an absence; He is always be with them. His Ascension is not a retirement from service but His glorification. After a fruitful life on earth, He is exalted by His Heavenly Father. This Gospel message is the foundation of the Church and makes clear what we are called to do and be. In other words, Jesus’ ascension: it has something to do with Him, it has something to do with us and it has something to do with His presence.
First, Jesus’ ascension has something to do with him, His return to the Father and is seated at the right hand of the Father with His supreme power over heaven and earth. By this mystery, the Ascension represents our hope as Catholics that at the end of time, we will be raised up, like Christ, we will enter into heavenly glory and to be with God, the Father.
Second, the ascension of Jesus has something to do with us, with a solemn commission to evangelize the entire world in the name of the Holy Trinity. “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations, baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt, 28:16-20). This invitation is to spread the message of the Gospel with our lives, to bear witness to God’s love and mercy in this world. We are invited to be modern apostles according to who we are and whatever we do.
Third, the ascension of Jesus has something to do with Jesus’ presence. His absence is his presence. He is called the ‘Emmanuel’ or ‘God-with-us’ (Mt 1:23). Today, when we are celebrating the Lord’s Ascension, it reminds us that his physical or visible presence in our midst is now completed and so his ascension is the beginning of his physical invisible but sacramental presence: in his sacraments, Words, assembly of people, ministers, prayers and service.
This understanding can be comprehended with our experiences during this time. Many of us have been staying at home and hardly seeing our family members and friends physically such as grandparents have not seen their grandchildren, parents have not seen their sons and daughters, siblings have not seen each other for a while, but we are sure that their physical absent is actually present in our minds and hearts when we are thinking of them and hoping to see them again.
Going through those experiences of being absence and presence for one another, it helps us to understand the Mystery of Jesus’s Ascension. Jesus made it clear that his Ascension did not mark an absence; on the other hands, it helps us to realize his truly presence among us. He is always here in our mist when sacraments are celebrated, he is here when we are gathering in his name, he is here when we are thinking of him and trusting our lives in him. Even, Jesus is here within each one of us.
As Jesus says “I am with you always.” Let us take comfort with these words of Jesus. Whatever we may be going through right now, please allow the Lord to whisper to us that He is with us, always. That always means, all the time, and whatever we are going through.