Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised is saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.
In these Easter weeks in which we have glimpsed Jesus as the Risen Lord, it has been all too clear He is no longer constrained by distance and time. Ascension must refer to Him somehow transcending time and space as we know them, entering definitively into the realm of eternal life with God.
Now Christ can be present to us as He could never be before. Telephones, photos and Facebook can carry our image or voice to several places at once; our minds can be distracted, so that we think of somewhere else; but we are not truly in the places of our images or imaginings. Yet that very possibility, of being present to ‘the many’, is what the Ascension opened up to Our Lord. Especially through the Eucharist, He can now be present to us with a completeness and intimacy He could not be before.
The Ascension invites us to look upwards, look beyond the field of our ordinary sight, to the very the persons and life of God. It summons us into the life of the Holy Trinity, with Christ our forerunner at the centre and angels and saints surrounding Him like a halo. We strain, with our eyes and necks and whole being to see beyond the here and now, and to glimpse the life to come. We try to blend our voices with the heavenly host, anticipating the life beyond.
The Ascension means that Someone with our human nature has now been raised to the heights. Today Heaven and Earth meet and a human being is seated at the right hand of the Father in majesty. One of us is now transfigured and not just temporarily on a mountaintop, but for all eternity and in heaven. As the adopted children of God, Christ’s fulfilment is our destiny also; His trajectory is our roadmap. We too should aspire to heavenly glory: for the One who now sits beside the Father Almighty bids us follow.