Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension. In most dioceses around the country, today is not a Holy Day of obligation. For most, this feast will be celebrated this Sunday. If you are in a diocese or archdiocese in New York, Boston, Hartford, Newark, Philadelphia or the state of Nebraska, then today is a Holy Day of obligation for you. You get to go to Mass today! (If you’re not sure, best to check with your parish/diocese.)
The Ascension may be the most under-celebrated feast of the Church year. But the Ascension is vital to our faith. Why? Well, first let me quote Pope Benedict XVI. He writes, “The meaning of Christ’s Ascension expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God…we go to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him.” In essence, Christ’s bodily ascension is the model for our spiritual ascension.
The Ascension also opened the door to the Holy Spirit’s coming. Remember, in John 16:7 Jesus said, “For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” You see, Jesus could have stayed and ruled forever on the earth. But that was not the Father’s plan. The sending of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of God’s plan. And not just some old blueprint stuffed away in some file cabinet. But God’s plan for your life. Jesus told his disciples to rejoice that He was going. And so today should be a day of rejoicing for us. So rejoice! Jesus has taken His place at the right hand of the Father!
Father, we thank you for the Ascension of our Lord, who now sits at your right hand. Let us rejoice, knowing that the time will come when we, too, will join Him with You in heaven. Amen.