“Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be." --- St Augustine.
(Gospel: Matthew 28: 16-20): The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
We, Christians of the 21st century, feel the same urge of those of the 1st century. We also want to see Jesus, to feel his presence amidst us, to reinforce the virtues of faith, hope and charity. This is why we feel sad if we think He is not among us, or if we may not feel and detect his presence, or hear and listen to his words. But this sadness becomes deep joy when we encounter his definite presence among us.
As His Holiness John Paul II reminded us in his last encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, this presence is concrete —specifically— in the Eucharist: «The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. This truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church. In a variety of ways she joyfully experiences the constant fulfillment of the promise: ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28:20) (...). The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a “mystery of light”. Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: ‘Their eyes were opened and they recognized him’ (Lk 24:31)».
Let us turn to God and beg for a deep faith, a constant uneasiness to quench our thirst in the Eucharist Source, while listening to and understanding God's Word; by eating and satiating our spiritual hunger with the Body of Christ.
Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the Feast of the Ascension thus invites us to devote ourselves to consolidating Our Lord’s Kingdom on earth, a Kingdom of goodness, justice, solidarity and mercy. It challenges us to give courageous witness to the Gospel before today’s world, bringing hope to the poor, the suffering, the lost and abandoned, the desperate and those yearning for freedom, truth and peace. It inspires us to be good to those we live and work with, to love them, and by doing so to show our love for God, who in all things loves us.
This is what the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord means. It does not mean the Lord has left us behind, nor that He has departed to some far away place, far from people and far from our world. It means He no longer belongs to the world. He belongs to God. In His Ascension, the Lord takes our human existence into the presence of God. He takes with Him our flesh and our blood, so that you and I and every human being desiring to do so now abide in God, and God abides in us. The mystery of the Ascension thus introduces us into the very life of God. The Ascension means that Christ had not indeed departed from us. It only seemed so. In fact, He is close to each one of us forever. On intimate terms with Him now, each of us and all of us together can work with Our Lord as He shares His strength with us to bring His own mission to conclusion. “Behold, I am with you always. . . .”