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The Meaning of Jesus' Ascension
The meaning of this last gesture of Jesus is twofold. Above all, ascending on "high," he unequivocally reveals his divinity: He returns to where he came from, that is, to God, after having fulfilled his mission on earth. Moreover, Christ ascends to heaven with the humanity he had assumed and which has resurrected from the dead. That humanity is ours, transfigured, divinised, made eternal.
The Ascension, therefore, reveals the "supreme vocation" ( Gaudium et Spes, no. 22) of every human person called to the eternal life of the kingdom of God, kingdom of love, light and peace.
But how do we enter into this kingdom?
After the Last Supper Jesus said to the Apostles, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where [I] am going you know the way" (John 14:2-3).
Today he says this to each of us as well. Having ascended to the Father he prepares a place for us, but we must seek to follow after him. We must desire to be where he is. He will not force us to be with him we must desire it and we must have faith in him. We must implore for the gift of this faith.
After watching in bewilderment Jesus ascend to the Father, the Apostles continued "standing there looking at the sky" (Acts 1:11). It is as though they stand there asking again with Thomas, "Master, how can we know the way?" They see Jesus ascend in his glory. They know where he has gone but they do not know quite how to get there, they do not quite know how to follow him.
To their wonderment, the two men [in white robes] tell them how to follow after Jesus: "This Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven" (Acts 1:11). "He has not abandoned you he will come back for you when all is ready."
Let us then not be found staring into the sky wondering where it is that Jesus has gone and pondering how it is that we are to follow. No, we know the Way! The Way knows us and loves us and calls us to himself. Let us then yield to the power of his love. Let us embrace the power of the Cross and resurrection so that when he comes again with the angels and the saints we may be found worthy to share with him eternal glory. Amen.
Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli Address, 21 May 2006.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 24 No 5 (June 2011), p. 2
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