“The Christ of the Ascension” by Fr Martin Loftus SDB, Salesian Community, Limerick, Ireland

“The Christ of the Ascension”

The curtain closes at the end of the musical! The audience starts to applaud! Backstage, the actors are hurrying into line for the final bow! Somebody shouts: “Open the curtain!” somebody else says: “No, wait! hold on a minute!” A flustered actress rushes from the dressing-room, to a chorus of whispered exhortation, and she slips into her place in the line! the curtain twitches; then sweeps quickly back! The applause rises to a crescendo, as people stand and clap and cheer! The actors and actresses bow; the grand finale. They wave their hands. The curtain closes again. The show is over!

Most of us think of the ascension, as a finale to the greatest show on earth! Our Lord has said wonderful things, and spoken his last lines! He has performed miracles! He has played the principal role in the amazing story of his life, and crucifixion, and death! He has made the roman soldiers gasp with the startling brightness of his resurrection! Now, with his ascension, he has taken his final bow, except, that instead of a curtain, it was a cloud that swept across, and hid him from human sight!

But to think of our lord’s ascension as a finale is to miss the point! Our Lord did not go back to heaven, in the same way as an actor goes back to the dressing-room, leaving the rest of us to go home in the rain!! You see, when Jesus ascended into heaven, he also took his human nature with him. He broke the barrier between heaven and earth. and not only that!! He has guaranteed a place in heaven for us too! Did he not say: “I am going now to prepare a place for you”??

If you stood in a queue outside the theatre – and if you had a friend, standing at the door waving to you, and holding the tickets, you’d be sure of getting in! The Christ of the ascension has booked a place in heaven for you! He paid for your seat with his life, & death, & resurrection! Now he sits at the right hand of the father, waiting for you – and – praying for you to come in! And he wants us all in there, in our human condition. And we are vulnerable in our human condition. All through our lives, we’re trying to keep one step ahead – living now – making the most of it, enjoying our life! Yet we know, in our hearts, that our journey must end. And the end of the chase is different for believers! As Christians, we don’t die direction-less! We die, in the knowledge of where Christ has gone! He is ascended into heaven, where he waits for us!

Yes, there will always be cloud and darkness in our life! But we, children of the light, can look through the darkness, to where our ascended Christ waits for us! Yes! Our hearts are full of hope and joy that we will follow him, into that new creation! I finish with an ascension blessing!

“May the light of your soul mind you at this time! May all your worry and anxiousness be transfigured in the light of his ascension. May you have a sense of your own great dignity, and a sense of how free you are! May you be blest, and may you find a wonderful love in yourself, for yourself, until you meet him, face to face, in the new creation. Amen.”