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Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

What does the feast day of the Ascension mean to you? Before answering this question we need to consider what it meant to Jesus?

Briefly we can say 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 to them. 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! His Son who is God, taking the form of a slave, was to restore us to His love and friendship. What a unique life He lived in obscurity for 30 years until that short time in which He formed a group of men on whom He would found His Church. Surely becoming man would have been enough to have restored us to the Father? No it was not enough for Jesus! He wanted to shed the last drop of His Blood to tell us how much He loved us. Can you imagine a more cruel death than scourging and crucifixion?

But before He died, because He did not want to leave us on our own, 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 the space of 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! For what more could we ask?

Then came the Ascension, the feast we keep today. This was a day of great rejoicing. It was as if Jesus had passed His exams and was receiving His diploma from His Father. Even in ascending to Heaven He still has not forgotten us. He is there pleading for your and my cause before His Father. He will not rest until all of us, His brothers and sisters, have had the opportunity to be with Him in the home of our heavenly Father.

But before He ascended into Heaven 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? Will the people we failed to touch because we did not even notice them join Jesus 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 the saints like Pope John Paul, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Padre Pio, and hear Jesus saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant” because we never let me down. 'You tried to be the best parent you could, the best priest you could, the best lay person. Come to the home I have prepared for you.'

Lord Jesus, the meaning of Your Ascension into Heaven is simply to make us realise that You are in Heaven cheering us on, and encouraging us to join You. May we continue Your mission on Earth by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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