If Jesus makes the claim to be the Son of God then why does he leave us, his children, and ascend to his Father? This may not speak well of a God who promised that he would never abandon us or leave us orphan. Why could he not live in our midst as he was 2,000 years ago? Is the ascension a nice way of ending the story to a make believe God that some Jews turned Christian made up?
Whether figuratively or literally, many people “look up” waiting for Jesus’ return in glory, riding in his chariot with his mighty angels ready to judge the living and the dead. As much as this is all truth, there is another part of the truth worth sharing. For the Catholic, Christ has never left us! He remains present to us in the Eucharist as he was 2,000 years ago.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI put it eloquently, “Ascension does not mean departure into a remote region of the cosmos, but rather, the continuing closeness that the disciples experience so strongly that it becomes a source of lasting joy” (Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. II, p. 281).
During this period of the Solemnity of the Ascension and the grand finale of Easter with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, what are we doing? What are we doing to live out the commission of Christ? Serve him by living for others, uplifting the other, finding him in the poor and marginalized in society.
Christ the Lord is found where he is found: in his Church. His voice is heard in the Church and his disciples go forth to care for the poor, the sick, and the marginalized. This is the Christian program!