Jesus Ascends Into Heaven
On Thursday, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension. Jesus ascending into Heaven while the Angels sang His praise. One of the six Holy Days of Obligation in the United States.
I must confess that for many years, especially when I was young, I didn’t really understand this feast. Or what it truly meant. After all, we usually celebrated when someone or something came to us rather than when something left us. We celebrated the birth of Jesus, or the birth of Mary or one of the Saints, not their leaving us. However, as a student (and later as a teacher) I did appreciate that it often meant a four-day weekend late in the school year, the dream of any student or teacher. Every once-in-a-while the Ascension was coupled with Memorial Day giving the unbelievable five-day mini holiday. God is good!
It wasn’t until I became a priest that the true understanding of the Solemnity of the Ascension really came home to me. In the Preface of the Mass, the short interchange between the Priest and the congregation followed by a longer prayer by the Priest, there are a few interesting statements that truly made the Ascension clearer to me. The Priest prays, “Christ has gone before us, not to abandon us but to be our hope. Where He has gone, we hope to follow.” Wow! Where He has gone we hope to follow.
All of a sudden it made sense to me. It helped to answer some significant questions. “Why do we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty? Because, “Where He has gone, we hope to follow!” Why do we turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, give our shirt and our coat as well? Because, “Where He has gone, we hope to follow.” All of the sacrifices that we are asked to make, all of the good deeds that we perform, are done for this reason and this reason alone. Because, “Where He has gone, we hope to follow.”
In these days leading up to the great feast of Pentecost and the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, let us pray that we may live up to our Christian calling to serve one another so that where He has gone, we may follow.
Happy Easter, again!