Feast of the Ascension of our Lord

Where I come from (New York diocese) Ascension was celebrated on Thursday.  But here in the Twin Cities, today is the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord.

In our first Mass reading for this day, we hear the account of Jesus’ Ascension in Acts.  At the end of the reading, two men in white garments come upon the disciples, who are gazing up toward heaven as Jesus ascends.  They ask the disciples, “Why do you stand there looking at the sky?”

I’m not sure the disciples at that point understood the reason Jesus had to ascend.  They were too filled with a sense of his loss to have embraced what he had told them when he said that he had to leave, but that they would receive the power of the Spirit.

In a sermon on the Ascension, Karl Rahner explains it well for us:

Because he wanted to come close to us definitively, he has gone away and taken us with him.  Because he was lifted up (on the cross of death and to the right hand of the Father) he and everything in him have become near.  The reason for this is that his Spirit – the Spirit in whom Christ is near to us, the Spirit upon whom Christ from eternity in eternity bestows the eternal fullness of life from the Father, the Spirit over and above which there is nothing that Christ could give in all eternity – this Spirit is in us now.  He is in us as the basis of the nearness of eternal contemplation, as the basis of the transfiguration of the flesh.  We notice nothing of this, and that is why the Ascension seems to be separation.  But it is separation only for our paltry consciousness.  We must will to believe in such a nearness – in the Holy Spirit…..When we are apparently estranged from the nearness of his earthly flesh, then we are the more united with him…..He takes on our semblance only to give us his own reality – the eternal, inexpressible reality that he received from the Father, that he gives us in his Spirit, and that we can receive because he, returning home with all that is ours, made it possible to share in God’s own life.

Happy feast of the Ascension of our Lord.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s