Dear friends, we find ourselves in the midst of two great feasts of the Church – the Ascension of our Lord and Pentecost. The moment of Christ’s Ascension is summarised in one sentence: ‘He was lifted up before their eyes in a cloud which took Him from their sight.’ (Acts 1:9) The Lord made this appearance, before His disciples, forty days after His Glorious Resurrection.
We may ask ourselves whether, in a sense, Christ distances Himself from us? Does He somehow leave us behind on earth as He rises up into the Heavens with His co-eternal Father? How does humanity’s relationship with God change following His physical absence from earth?
The answer lies in Christ’s own words to His disciples on the day of His ascension. ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses.’ (Acts 1:8) Though Christ ascends in glory following His life-giving Resurrection, He does not abandon us, nor in any way distance Himself from us, but rather calls us to an ever closer relationship with Him, as His disciples and members of His Church. God, by then sending down His Holy Spirit on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) establishes His body on earth, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the ark of our salvation. It is within the Risen and Ascended Lord’s Church that we experience the fullness and the presence of His Holy Spirit, through our faithful participation in the sacraments, enabling us to encounter Him in the Eucharistic assembly. In His presence, ‘there is fullness of joy.’ (Ps 16:11)
Just as Christ, the giver of life, ‘lifted up his hands and blessed’ (Lk 24:50) His disciples, He also blesses, nurtures and guides us in our own paths of life. The feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost prove that our faith in Christ is not simply a personal affair, but a communal responsibility and ministry.
Let us, thus, share the joy of His resurrection, the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit, as well as the Lord’s teaching of truth and life – acting as His current witnesses and disciples – in our world.