Gospel Reflection, The Ascension of our Lord, Year C
Acts of the Apostles 1: 1-11; Ephesians 1: 17-23; Luke 24: 46-53
Jesus Is More Present to Us Now, Not Less
Jesus was in his very person, the meeting of heaven and earth. In Him, God and humanity came together. His entire ministry was the outward expression of this inward identity. His whole work, it could be said, was the bringing of humanity and divinity together. In the Lord’s prayer, we say, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This sums it up! In His passion and death, Jesus effectively brought heaven all the way down. He carried the divine life and light into the darkest places of humanity – places of hatred, cruelty, violence and corruption. The divine life is brought into even the darkest aspects of earth. We know from the resurrection that heaven transforms even those places and the divine love is more powerful. This is the Good News. In the face of all of the corrupt kingdoms of the world, the Church announces that God is king!
In light of this basic gospel message, we hear at the Ascension of our Lord that Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God and the reign of God. The disciples have been given power and a new commission to tell everyone of this Good News. Then Jesus was taken up into heaven. But we should not think of this spatially as though he escaped from earth and went away from humanity. Rather, Jesus from heaven, is now reigning over the earth. We hear that he is seated at the right hand of the Father. This is symbolic language that lets us know that he is reigning over earth on behalf of the Father.
So our Lord, Jesus is more, not less present to us here on earth. He is directing the things of earth and of the Church from his place in heaven. He is not present in human form only to Israel, but in his glorified body he is present to all of creation. And he continues the work of building up his kingdom here below. Think of hiking up a mountain. From the vantage point of the summit we see all around us and, in a sense, are present to what is all around us.
So the Ascension forces us to ask, Who do we finally obey? Do we allow him to direct all that is happening here below? Our Lord is not a figure of the past to be vaguely remembered, but here present with us now from heaven. This is why the angel says, Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” It is as if the angel is saying, “Get to work. You have a king with your marching orders to build up the kingdom under His direction.” We have many gifts with which God has blessed us to do that with. May we use them all to his glory and under His command and direction.
May God bless you all.