“Jesus Christ said over the consecrated elements, ‘This is My Body.’ You say, ‘No. It is not His Body!’ Whom am I to believe? I prefer to believe Jesus Christ.” – Blessed Dominic Barberi
(Gospel text: Lk 24:46-53)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Thus it is written that the Christ 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. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.
On this Feast of the Ascension we should ask ourselves this question, "How are we doing?" The Feast presents us with an invitation to examine the relationship between the faith we profess every Sunday in the Creed we recite at Mass and its manifestation in the stuff of our daily lives.
We, Christians of the 21st century, feel the same urge as those of the 1st century. We also want to see Jesus, to experience 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 our eyes are “opened “and we experience his definite presence among us.
His Holiness, Pope John Paul II reminded us in his last encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, that Jesus’ 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)».
The Ascension does not mark the end of Jesus' relationship with His Church but the beginning of a new way of His relating to the world - in and through His Church. This way includes every one of us who bear His name. We have also ascended - with the Lord. When viewed with the eyes of living faith the Ascension is capable of transforming the way we view ourselves and live our daily lives.