The Ascension of the Lord - Year B - 17th May 2015

Ascension of the Lord

At Christmas, we celebrated the Incarnation, when Jesus shared our human nature. He did so that we might share His divine nature. Today we celebrate His entry into heaven, where He is glorified and seated at the right hand of His Father. This means that a human nature like ours has broken the barrier between earth and heaven. But it's not just a human nature like ours. It's a human nature representative of ours. He is the first born and where he has gone we hope to follow. This feast of the Ascension is also our feast. As the preface of our Mass reminds us, He has passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us but to be our hope where he has gone, we hope to follow.

The Ascension does not mark the end of Jesus' relationship with the Church but the beginning of a new way of being with us. Christ is the mediator between God and man. Nor is it some kind of "intermission", to be concluded upon His bodily return, which will most certainly occur. Rather, it is about a new beginning, a new way of being now.

We are the Body of Christ, and we are called to carry out his mission here on earth: Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. "How are we to do that? Jesus himself tells us: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." In the fifth century, St Augustine wrote this about Ascension Day: 'You ascended from before our eyes. We turned back grieving, only to find you in our hearts.'

He no longer walks our roads in a physical body. But all who are initiated in his name through baptism, confirmation and Eucharist are commissioned, sharers in his mission. Now he has a million hearts to expand with his love, a million voices to proclaim the Good News, a million lives to witness to his presence and power.

'Know that I am with you always, yes to the end of time.' That pledge is a two-edged sword: it is reassuring and comforting. But it is also a frightening challenge:

You and I must put that power to work not only in word but also in deed. When we not only preach the gospel but also try to live it, we are a sign of hope to all around us that a better world is indeed possible. Don't stand there looking at the sky. The kingdom of God is among us, right here, right now, and our future glory is guaranteed.

Fr. Kevin O'Shea, C.M.