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Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

We know that our Heavenly Father created this beautiful world and our first parents. He gave them every happiness and He wanted them to love Him in return. Instead they spurned His love and lost Heaven for themselves and their descendants. But God showed mercy. He promised to send them one of their own kind, born of a woman, who would restore them to His love.

The Person He sent was His only Son. How much He loved us! Jesus Christ, who is God, took the form of a slave, to restore us to His love and friendship. What a unique life He lived, in obscurity for 30 years and then in the short space of three years forming a group of men, on whom He would found His Church. Surely becoming man could have been enough to have restored us to the Father? But Jesus wanted to shed the last drop of His Blood to demonstrate to us how much He loved us. Can you imagine a more cruel death than scourging and crucifixion? But before He died He did not want to leave us on our own, and so He left Himself with His Church in the Holy Eucharist.

After His Resurrection He knew how shattered and disorientated His Apostles were and so for 40 days He calmed their anxieties and fears, built up their strength and confidence, and prepared them for the Holy Spirit. The God of Love was to be theirs!

Then came the Ascension, the Feast we keep today. This was a day of great rejoicing. It was as if Jesus has passed His exams and was receiving His diploma from His Father because His time on Earth was over and He could return to Heaven. But having done this He still would not forget us. He is there pleading your and my cause before His Father. He will not rest until all of us His brothers and sisters have been given the opportunity to be with Him in the home of our Heavenly Father.

Before He ascended into Heaven that day almost 2,000 years ago, He gave His followers one last command, “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations: baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.”

Jesus now has no other plan than for you and me to carry on His work. When you and I stand before Him in eternity, fully aware of His great love for us, what will we hear Him say? Will He tell us, sadly, 'I loved you so much, but you were busy about so many other things. I depended on you to show love to people who came into your life, but you concentrated on just a few and excluded the rest. I gave you My Word in the Scriptures and the Tradition of My Church, but you were full of excuses as to why you did not have the time to pray and to learn about Me and My Love for you?'

Will He show us the good we could have accomplished? If only we had paid better attention to Him and His mission rather than our own business or the pleasures of the world? Will the people we failed to touch because we didn’t even notice them join Jesus in looking at us sadly? Will we be aware of so many missed opportunities because we placed our trust in things that pass away rather than the things that endure into eternity?

Or will we stand alongside people like Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Padre Pio and hear Jesus saying, 'Well done, good and faithful servant? I did so much for you and you never let Me down. You tried to be the best parent you could be, the best priest you could be, the best lay person. Come to the home I have prepared for you.'

The meaning of the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven is simply to make us realise that Jesus in Heaven is cheering us on and encouraging us to join Him.

Holy Spirit, inspire and empower us to continue the mission of Jesus on Earth, here and now, as we demonstrate in our own lives how much the Feast of the Ascension means to us.

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