“When they had gathered together they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The readings today mark an extremely important transition in the life of Christ and His Church, of which we are members. We have heard the end of the Gospel according to St. Luke, and the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. We celebrate the end of that time when Jesus walked the earth in the midst of people who could turn to Him in their needs. His Ascension was necessary, though so that we could receive Christ in His Holy Spirit. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus, then, prepares us for the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the event which we will celebrate on the feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church.
Whenever we ourselves face transitions in life, we might tend to forget that when one door closes in life, another door tends to open. The Ascension reminds us of this, but also promises us something much more important. Not only do doors open and close in life, but as Christ said to the apostles, He sends down to us the promise of the Holy Spirit, to guide us as we choose which doors to go through and which doors to close behind us.
God is always with us, appearing to us in different ways. The Holy Spirit manifests His presence in our lives through his gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety, and due reverence for God. These gifts are at work in our hearts if we actively seek the presence of the Holy Spirit, whose entrance into our hearts we should pray intensely for during these next ten days.
And so the Ascension is the prologue of the story of the Church, our story. We can celebrate the Ascension because while Jesus is no longer physically present as one of us, he is still with us: His Spirit is with us, and He is with us in his sacraments. But Jesus has passed on his mission to us. It’s up to all of us, bound together by the Holy Spirit, to show the world what God is like. Because the Holy Spirit, as a spirit, can only be seen through human beings. And with Jesus in heaven, it’s up to us to show the face of God to others.