Reflection from Carol Thornton, Director of Liturgy & Pastoral Care .
The Ascension marks Christ’s going, as he told his disciples, “to my Father and to your Father; to my God and to your God” (John 20:17). Yet, he promises “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
In Catholic teaching the Paschal Mystery refers to Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. The Ascension is an integral part of the Easter story.
Two important Christian convictions flow from this. The first is that in ascending to “the right hand of God”, Jesus brought his full humanity into the fullness of divine reality. All that we humans experience is forever embraced and transformed through Christ, in the divine life of God.
Second, we are called to respond to the question of the angels who ask, “Why are you looking at the sky?” (Acts 1:11). Jesus’ ascension from the earth to heaven is a sign that we will no longer encounter him as his first followers did.
Our relationship with God will be based on grace, personal faith, Scripture and Tradition. We shall encounter him, as St. Paul says, through “the eyes of our hearts”. Our encounter with the Lord will come through establishing and maintaining an on-going relationship based on love for God and neighbor, the sacraments, the preaching of God’s Word, our work for justice, and the mercy we extend to others.
Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity,
but in him, we can be there by love.
St. Augustine, homily