Prayerful reflection on the Mystery of the Ascension

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ASCENSION SUNDAY

“Why, dear Jesus, are you leaving us to ascend back to the Father? Didn’t you promise us that you would live with us till the end of time? Didn’t you ask us at the Last Supper to remain in you as you wanted to remain in us?

 

We miss you, Jesus of Nazareth, in flesh and bones like one of us! We even feel jealous of those who in your days in Palestine did hear your words, admire your beauty, and enjoy your togetherness.

Yes, we know that you never planned to escape from us, because all your life has been an evident act of unconditional love for us. But why didn’t you decide to stay around and continue to share meals with us, teach us your truths, and heal our bodies and souls. Yes, we would have welcome you to our villages and towns as on Palm Sunday in Jerusalem.

It would have been so easy, both for you and us.

But, then, who are we to tell you what to do, when actually you made it very clear from the beginning that everything you were and did had no other purpose than to love us?

With the help of your Spirit, we realize that your ascension to the Father means nothing less than for you to be present to our humanity with more and clearer universal solidarity, beyond time and space. If you had not ascended, you would come to a place and go, one day at the time. But how could you meet all human beings as you did in Palestine? If you were with us today in Fadugu (my parish in Sierra Leone), you could not be in Makeni or Freetown or Lagos or New York at the same time. You would only play with our life for a few moments and by magical powers. And so, after enjoying you for a short while, we would have to continue living … without you.

In the end we would not believe in you with the wholeness of our life, and actually, after a small time of amazing grace together, we would leave you to your own good news and stick to ours with all the strange and irrational choices we are experiencing in our daily personal and public existence. Yes, we would leave you alone, without becoming that human family you planned to make of us.

Then, on this year anniversary of your ascension, we can’t do anything better than to thank you for the ever-present power of your love in your eucharistic body and blood, in your beatitudes, in your forgiveness of sins, in all (yes, all) our earthly brothers and sisters. Jesus, you are so present, so necessary, so alive, always and to all!

Thus, we have to admit that, by ascending to heaven, you have not really left us, but are present today to and among us more than in the old days. In 2018 with the evolutionary processes taking place in this world with extraordinary velocity, we become more and more aware that you are the last “evolutionary leap”* of our life. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “In Jesus’ Resurrection a new possibility of human existence is attained that affects everyone and that opens us a future, a new kind of future, for mankind.”*

Yes, we believe that you’re going away from us after your resurrection means only one thing, that you want to be now with all of us, for a new and eternal humanity, in your name. You really want to be Jesus with all, always and everywhere. And so you want to be with me, each one of us, for the best of life.

That’s is why you told both your apostles and us, your followers, to go out to the whole world and to proclaim the Good news to all creation. For you are the very heart of creation.

Dear Jesus of Mary and of the Father, thank you to be fully with me for a world truly human and truly divine, truly personal and truly universal.”

*Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week. Page 185.