Today marks 40 days after Easter. On this day, we celebrate Jesus’ good-bye to those whom he loved. They watch him ascend to his Father. And after this glorious ascension, his closest friends wait in what I call the “in-between” moment of life. The moment between the ascension and the Pentecost event, the moment between leaving us and fulfilling all his promises. The pope gives us insight into this ascension:
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).
Ron Rolheiser would say:
The mystery of saying goodbye is really the mystery of the Ascension, the most under-understood mystery both inside and outside of religion. The Ascension is about going away so that our loved ones can fully receive our spirit. It’s about the mystery of saying goodbye, when goodbye isn’t really goodbye at all, but only love’s way of taking on a different modality so that it can be present in a way that’s deeper, purer, more permanent, less-clinging, and less-limited by the tensions, disappointments, inadequacies, wounds, and betrayals that, this side of eternity, forever make our intimacy a work in progress.
Jesus leaving us is his new way of remaining with us. It is love’s manner of being so intimately bound to us on this side of eternity. During this “in-between” moment, how can we be more loving? Do we let go of things we cling to in order to love more deeply? Jesus will fulfill his promises and we must orient our lives in the way he has set out for us.