“Now I am going to Him who sent Me”. (John16: 5)
Ascension of the Lord
A meditation by John Dardis, SJ
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshipped, but some doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Visiting friends and relatives is an important and life-giving part of our lives and there are always some rituals to mark the arrivals and the greetings. But the departures, as I recall from my childhood, can have even more elaborate rituals. After the first sign of movement when my father would say, “we had better get going”, there would be a further half an hour or maybe even an hour before finally we would get in the car. There was something extra to eat, or an insistence that we stay a bit longer. For us, children, this was always very frustrating. We wanted to get out the company of adults and get back to our games. And yet, sometimes, these conversations in this last half an hour were often of deeper meaning and real engagement. It was as if we realised the depth of our belonging and we wanted to honour that.
The Ascension of Jesus has some of those dynamics. The Disciples are upset and dismayed at the thought of His departure. He reassures them that He will send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Helper. He reassures them that in a very real way He will still be with them.
At this time of the Ascension, we remember that Jesus has ascended into heaven and has left us. But there is reassurance that He will send His Spirit at Pentecost. We can wait for that Spirit of inspiration and healing, asking always that our lives be transformed, our hearts consoled and made new.