The Feast of the Ascension
In the Ascension of Jesus Christ, humanity has been lifted higher than the angels. It is hard to accept this, because the reality of our lives is very carnal, very mortal. It is an abstract idea which seems far removed from the reality I experience.
Jesus says to his disciples in the Gospel, “I will be with you always, yes even to the end of time.” He says this as he is leaving them and as they experience his absence. If this is all there is to the Ascension event then this is not cause for celebration. The magnitude of Jesus’ Ascension into heaven is not that he simply returns to his Father. The magnitude of the Ascension for us is that he also enters heaven as a human being, taking with him our whole human condition. What it is to be human is now taken into heaven. It is not simply Jesus’ humanity which has been taken up, it is our humanity. Being human gives us direct access to Jesus Christ and therefore direct access to God. Jesus takes with him everything we are except sin into the presence of the Father, to dwell with God for all eternity.
All of what I am is in Jesus Christ and is in the presence of God here and now. In this this way, Jesus is truly with me yes even until the end of time. I share what I am with Jesus and he shares his ascended humanity with me. God is with us. Everything that I am in every moment of my existence is present to God. We are never alone. Does this comfort you, or does it terrify you? Your daily life revolves around this intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Your humanity through Jesus Christ is in the presence of God, above the angels. Therein lies a call to love and imitate Christ.
As we look to the Eucharist in this celebration of thanksgiving, where we become what we eat, we affirm this communion which we have with the living God. Jesus has Ascended and taken his place for us and with us with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit in heaven for all eternity.
Fr William Loh, O.P. , Friar of the Dominican Province of the Assumption and chaplain to Monash University.