Reflections: Themes of the Ascension

The three themes of the Ascension are: Jesus left our life here on earth, because of Jesus we have a friend in a high place, and

“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: 10-11)

Imagine the emotions of the first disciples: first the joy of the grand entrance into Jerusalem, then the horrible let down of the Crucifixion, followed by the joy of the Resurrection. Then to add to the rollercoaster Jesus ascends into heaven leaving them feeling like orphans. The anguished cry that must have come from them is, “Why did you leave us Jesus?”

The reason Jesus left was because Jesus could not be limited to a time or place. Jesus was for all men at all times, not excluding anyone from his love. By ascending he created the possibility of the descent of the Holy Spirit which permeates the whole of the Church wherever it exists with fellowship and love.

“…[S]ince we have A great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.” (Hebrews 10:21-23)

When Jesus ascended into heaven he became a friend in a high place that was always on our side as long as we wanted the good things God offered us. He understood the whole human array of thoughts and feelings and thus can be great counselor and intercessor for us before the throne of God. We have to agree to follow Him. If we do he does the heavy lifting.

“‘Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” (Luke 24: 46-47)

We are all the proclaimers of the Good News that Christ is Risen—Risen indeed. No one is exempt. All are privileged to serve.

As St Francis said, “Always preach the Gospel sometimes use words.” You preach the Gospel when you refuse to tell racist jokes or to gossip. You preach the Gospel when you reach out to another person in pain. You preach the Gospel when you go to Mass and then Glorify the lord by your life.

So realize that Jesus ascended so we could have him more deeply, and so the Holy Spirit could come and minister to humanity. With the Ascendant Christ we have a friend in a very high place, and we have been tasked with proclaiming the Gospel: not just priests, but everyone.

Father Mike Van Cleve

Father Mike is a priest for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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