The Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord oftentimes is an understated event in the Church’s liturgical year. We profess the reality of this historical and supernatural event each Sunday as we profess the Creed. It is a significant event, in fact, it is the climax before He sends the Paraclete. In returning to the Father, Jesus leads us into the Father’s presence and forever tears the veil dividing mankind from God. It is through the Ascension in light of the Paschal Mystery that we are able to go home. Our Lord, now sitting at the right hand of the Father, in His Glorified Incarnate form, brings us to the Father. We are now able to enter into the Heavenly sanctuary and behold the Beatific Vision at the end of our holy lives.
The Ascension reminds us this is not our home.
In the glory, awe, mystery, and joy of the Resurrection we celebrate the gift of our salvation. We have been redeemed in Christ. The Lord’s Ascension reminds us that earth is our temporary home. We are sojourners with our gaze fixed on the faraway land. We seek the white shores, the place of peace, eternity with our Beloved. Christ has paved the way for us and He calls each one of us to follow Him back to the Father, so that we may truly rest in the love of the Most Holy Trinity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house,” to God’s life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 661
We are now able to follow Christ back to our permanent home in Heaven. We too are called to return to the Father.
Christ intercedes for us through our joys and sorrows.
The path home is an arduous journey. In our struggle to become holy through God’s grace, we will constantly stumble and begin again. The spiritual life is a constant beginning again. St. Francis de Sales reminds us: “It is right that we should begin again every day. There is no better way to complete the spiritual life than to be ever beginning it over again.” In the seemingly mundane experiences of daily life, we can become overburdened and frustrated with our failures in the spiritual life. In reality, Our Lord now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf constantly. Through His grace, we are able to make progress. This progress may not even be obvious to us each day, but bit by bit we continue on the journey home. The point is to begin again and keep our eyes fixed on Christ and His desire to draw us to Him.
Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
We always live in hope.
The Ascension is cause of great joy and hope. The Ascension points to Christ’s kingship and the renewal of the world. We now wait in joyful hope for His glorious return. In a world marred by sin, pain, and suffering we are able to look in hope to our Heavenly home and the end of time. When we read the news, and see violence, pain, suffering, or when we ourselves experience sorrow and suffering, we can look in hope as the Apostles did when Our Lord returned to the Father at the Ascension. It is because Christ now reigns at the right hand of the Father that we can stand firmly in hope, faith, peace, and charity as the storms of this life rage on around us. The battle is won!
Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at “the last hour.” “Already the final stage of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.” Christ’s kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.
This hope does not take us away from our duty to bring the world into conformation with the Most Holy Trinity. It is precisely because we are redeemed and live in the hope of Christ that we must make “disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and bring others to the Eucharistic banquet. We live in an age when many people live in despair and loneliness. They do not know they are made for Heaven. They do not know the joy of Christ and the hope of the Paschal Mystery. It is on this great Solemnity that we once more look to Heaven in hope, pray for the strength to persevere on the journey home, and bring others along the pilgrim way.