The Ascension of the Lord
The Acts of the Apostles tells us that Jesus floats off into the sky like a helium balloon. Oh boy, it looks like Jesus has abandoned us. But that’s not the case. Jesus had to go to heaven, so (i) our hearts could be prepared to receive the Holy Spirit and (ii) we could find the strength to be Christ in his absence!
We never want our loved ones to go away. It would be terrible if mum or dad, or your favourite aunty left for good. We don’t want them to go because we love them. We want to hold them close. It was like that with Jesus.
But with Jesus it is also different. Jesus had to go. God planned this. Jesus had to ascend and go to heaven before God could send the Holy Spirit to make Jesus live in our hearts instead.
Jesus has not abandoned us. As we heard in the readings Jesus appears to have gone away. He did disappear from the Apostles sight, so we could all find him living in our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit whom God gave us instead/as well.
Through this gift we now find Jesus in our hearts. And this is very important: instead of relying on Jesus to do God’s work we now must work with him who is living within us, by using the gifts we have received from the Holy Spirit at our Confirmation.
A great analogy is Kung-fu-panda (or maybe young Luke Skywalker)! The guy was totally reliant on master Shifu who dies ☹ … Poor Po, he was lost without him. So, in the end, when Po needed strength to defeat Tai Lung he had to find that strength himself, within himself. Po, the true dragon warrior, had to find the inner strength to do all the things taught him by master Shifu.
In this analogy, with our master Jesus absent, we must find the strength to do all the things he taught us. We do this by turning inward and working with the Lord whom is living and working within us through the gifts we receive at Confirmation and in virtue of the graces we receive at every Eucharist.
Do you see now that Jesus had to go to heaven? He did so for us to find the strength to follow him and be him for each other. This is to fulfil the prophesy in the Gospel that followers of Jesus go out preaching the Good News with “the Lord working with them and confirming the Word by the signs that accompanied it.”
Image: Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo - Ascension of Christ