I hope you had a Happy Easter. Now we look forward to the end of the month when we will celebrate the feast of our Lord’s Ascension. In the past maybe it was easier than it is now to live with mystery, with an acknowledgement that there are some things we cannot explain. With mundane things it can just be a lack of knowledge – I could not explain to you how my mobile phone can do some of the things it does but I am sure there is a woman somewhere who could, and, unless or until I meet her, I am happy to use it without knowing. The spiritual mysteries of our faith are more than the everyday mysteries that some of us live with. With matters of faith I think it is different. Good and patient friends or great theologians may explain the mysteries of our faith to me but in the end it is still my responsibility to choose what I believe.
There are two accounts of the Ascension in our scriptures, both given by Luke. The first is in Luke’s gospel (Ch 24:50-53) and the second in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (Ch 1:9-11). There is no conflict between the two accounts – taken together they amount to this: at Bethany, Jesus led the disciples out, and as he was blessing them, he was taken up, into a cloud, and passed from their sight. Two men in white garments appeared, and asked “why are you standing looking up into heaven? This Jesus who has been taken up into heaven from you will come again in the same way as you have seen Him go to heaven”. The disciples worshipped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.
This miraculous event marks the end of Jesus’ presence with disciples and his return to Heaven at the end of his life on earth. I would have had so many questions, but, in this brief account, the witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus become also witnesses to his departure – and their reaction was not fear or doubt but joy. After receiving angelic assurance that Jesus would come again, the disciples worshipped Jesus. They felt great joy, and focused on worshipping God.
I choose to believe that at the end of his ministry on earth Jesus went to be with his Father God – taking the best of our humanity back to the heart of the Creator. I believe that if we are in Christ, a part of the body of Christ, then through his Ascension we too are in the heart of the Creator – nowhere safer, nowhere more loved. What joy!
“For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12)
Every good wish,