After the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the glory of the Lord continued to shine as he appeared to his disciples, appeared to thousands, allowed Thomas to touch his nailed scarred hands, and then revealed his glory through the beautiful Ascension.
Sometimes, it is an overwhelming thing to think about as you consider the apostles, their reactions, their feelings all combined at once as they saw the Savior ascend into the clouds and disappear before their very eyes.
Pope St. Leo the Great acknowledged the inexpressible joy the disciples had on that beautiful and overwhelmingly glorious day…the day of the ascension. A joy which propelled them to change the world for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. An inexpressible joy which fueled the fire of the Church.
“That blessed company had a great and inexpressible cause for joy when it saw man’s nature rising above the dignity of the whole heavenly creation, above the ranks of angels, above the exalted status of archangels. Now would there be any limit to its upward course until humanity was admitted to a seat at the right hand of the eternal father, to be enthroned at last in the glory of him to whose nature it was wedded in the Person of the Son,” said Pope St. Leo.
St. Augustine, in addressing the Day of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, said ‘today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.”
We are all provided the opportunity to ‘let our hearts ascend with him’ each day, but specifically during Mass. Do you truly lift your heart to him? The closest on this earth you will get to heaven is the Mass. The Ascension has been called the ‘key that helps unlock the very meaning of our lives and the plan of God for the entire created order’.
The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus is our Feast. In keeping with the teachings of the early Church Fathers, St. Augustine reaffirms the unity of the body of Christ.
“Where the Head is, there is the Body, where I am, there is my Church, we too are one; the Church is in me and I in her and we two are your Beloved and your Lover,” said Augustine.
Augustine’s point was the truth that we cannot be separated because we are the Head and the Body; we are the ‘One Christ’.
“In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.While meeting with the them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
When they had gathered together they asked him,“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:1-11)
The Ascension of the Lord is about living in Christ today. The Apostle Pal wrote to the Galatians ‘No longer do I live but Christ lives in me and the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God.” (Galatians 2:19, 20) The message of the Ascension for today is a calling to raise our hearts to heaven, to live IN Christ here on earth but to look toward heaven. Never overlook or neglect the beauty and gift of the Feast of the Ascension. Take time to cherish the gift, to bask in the glory and beauty of our risen and ascended Lord, and to take the message and calling of this gift to heart, meditate on it, cherish it, implement it in your life. How can you ‘live in Christ’ today more than you did yesterday?