Today we celebrate the ascension of the Lord, the day when Jesus went up to heaven. Now, if we think about this event in the life of Jesus in isolation, it might seem kind of strange. Why go up to heaven? Why not stay here on earth? We could build Jesus a nice palace, we could declare him king of the earth, etc. If we think of the ascension in isolation it almost seems as though Jesus’ departure leaves us abandoned and alone.
But, of course, we never want to think about this event isolation. Every year we relive and remember the events of our salvation. Each year at Christmas we remember that Jesus was born for us, that the king of the universe became a little child so as to bring us salvation. Then during Lent and up to Good Friday we remember that Jesus suffered and died for us. He laid down his life as a sacrifice so that the salvation he came to bring might come about. Afterward, we celebrate the great solemnity of Easter. We proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Jesus broke the prison bars of death. But, the story doesn’t end there. Rather, the ascension completes the cycle. Jesus returns to his Father today.
So we see God’s plan come to completion today. The plan goes like this. The Father so loved the world that he sent us his only begotten Son. The Word of God comes down from heaven and takes on the human nature. While here among us, he preaches good news, he instructs us in the ways of holiness, he lays down his life for us, and he destroys death with his resurrection. And today he returns to his Father. He is sent from the Father, and today he returns. But notice one important thing. When Jesus returns to heaven, he does not leave his humanity behind. Rather, he takes us with him. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human, which means that when he returns to his Father, Jesus takes all of humanity with him.
Today on this feast of the ascension we see the fullness of God’s plan revealed. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God, he was sent from the Father. And, he became one of us, so that he might lead us to the Father. This is good news indeed: all those who believe in Jesus will be united with him forever. So today’s feast should fill us with joy: where Jesus has gone, we all hope to follow.