It has been some time since the Bishops of the United States moved the Ascension from last Thursday to this Sunday. They were thinking that people need to know the importance of the Ascension.
When it was on Thursday many people were not able to attend mass even though it was a holy day of obligation. Only a few dioceses still celebrate Ascension on Thursday. I like to be traditional but, in this case, I agree with our Bishops. People need to hear the Bible readings for the Ascension. And if more people can experience the Ascension because it is on a Sunday then this is very good.
The Ascension is forty days after the resurrection. Does forty help you to remember? The Hebrew people were in the desert for forty years. Jesus was in the desert for forty days. For Noah it rained forty days and forty nights. Forty is an important number that means God is preparing us for something special. Jesus will ascend into heaven in forty days. Why is it so important that Jesus ascend into heaven?
The easy answer is that Jesus promises to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. This is true. If Jesus remained, we would just run to Jesus to solve all our problems. But that is not why Jesus came. He came to die for us to redeem us that we may enter eternal life with Him. He forgives our sins.
We need to learn to pray to the Holy Spirit and trust in God. But there is something more, much more.
When Jesus ascends to heaven He is seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus’ place in heaven is that He be at the Father’s right hand. But even more we must remember Jesus is human. That means humanity is seated at the right hand of the Father. This is so important.
Humanity is higher than the angels in heaven because of Jesus. And we who are born to eternal life through baptism are one in Christ and are one with Him. We are the body of Christ; we are in the body of Christ; we are one with Christ. Jesus ascended into heaven to place humanity in its proper place with the Father. When Jesus says He and the Father are one, we are one with the Father and the Son.
But we are weak and frail human beings. That is why we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit next Sunday. Take time this week to prepare your hearts to receive the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen