Ascension Day

Acts: 1:1-11         Ephesians 1:17-23      Luke 24:46-53

Ascension of the LordFor the disciples, witnessing the event of the Ascension of the Lord, it was a time of mixed feelings.  The Lord was departing from them which saddened them but He promised that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who would empower them to carry on His mission to the world, which energised them and gave them hope.  Saint Luke gives us two different accounts of this event. In the Acts of the Apostles he says that Jesus ascended to the Father forty days after the Resurrection, forty days that were filled with joy and teaching and faith-filled moments with the Risen Lord. In his Gospel, Saint Luke says that Jesus ascended to Heaven on the same day as the Resurrection.  That Jesus left so suddenly meant that the disciples felt even more the need of the Holy Spirit, the power from on High.  They were acutely aware of their weakness and vulnerability and the power that the Lord promised was essential to their lives and the mission of the early Church.

For us too, the event of the Ascension of the Lord is filled with mixed feelings and evokes all sorts of thoughts about our lives and the life to come.                                                                                                                                                                                                     

This feast of the Ascension of the Lord is a time to think about heaven! At the Ascension Jesus ‘was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place’.  He tells us that ‘there are many rooms in my Father’s house’ and that ‘I am going to prepare for you’.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

The basis of our hope in heaven is summed up in the Preface of the Mass today: ‘He ascended, not to distance himself from our lowly state but that we, his members, might be confident of following where he, our Head and Founder, has gone before’.   Heaven is our goal and that inspiration is put before us as we commemorate Jesus going to the Father.  We need goals, aspirations in all that we do and surely our life’s goal is the all-important one. The image of ‘eternal rest’ might strike us, especially the activists among us, as being very boring!  Eternal rest means the repose and fulfilment of all our energies in the wonder of God. If heaven is our eternal goal it will bring us to a sense of completion.  There will be a balancing within ourselves to end all the contradictions and tensions between our hot and cold feelings, our ideals and our failings, our makings and breakings.  There will be unity with others, particularly being united with our loved ones who have gone before us.  There will be unity with God that is total oneness in the Risen Lord who is one with the Father in the love and power of the Holy Spirit.

While we are in this life we will always feel incomplete and restless.  Our prayer today might be the same one as Saint Augustine: ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you’