Not to see beyond this passing world is one of the major sources of the various crises that confront human existence. The true meaning of human life and the purpose of existence become clearer and most perceptible in connection with the World beyond; where God reigns with the fullness of His glory and splendour. The Ascension of Christ is an invitation never to lose sight of this celestial dimension of life without which human existence loses its orientation and guide. At the end of time, may we partake in the glory of the ascended Lord; Amen.

The Ascension was a very important historical moment in the life and mission of our Lord Jesus Christ. His main salvific task has been accomplished and it was time for Him to return to His glorious and heavenly abode from where He came to save us from damnation. The Readings of today all give us some hints of that decisive, historical and salvific moment when Jesus ascended into Heaven before the very eyes of His disciples. The Gospel (Luke 24:46-53) summarily recounts to us how it all happened; “He took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, He withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy.” One striking attitude of the disciples was that of very intense gaze on Christ as He ascended; “He was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight” (Acts 1:1-11). The gesture of looking intensely at the ascending Lord was not just a momentary attitude of the disciples that signals the mysterious, fascinating and tremendous nature of the Ascension of Christ. More still, it was indicative of the habit for life that must characterise the living of the Christian Life. This redemptive and salvific habit is that of focusing on and being very attentive to the Supernatural and ultimately to God. The intensity of the disciples’ gaze on the ascending Lord is a sign of the Superiority of the Celestial Realms and the inferiority of the things of this passing world that sometimes keep us restless and in a state of confusion and corruption.

The Ascension of Jesus Christ has many messages for us human beings, especially for those who believe. One of the central messages is that life is beyond what we can see or experience in this passing world. There is something Superior that gives meaning to the things of this world. Not to take note of these super-sensible realities remain the starting point of human crises of identity and meaning. The Ascension draws our attention to the proper focus of every human endeavour; where the Risen Lord has gone before us to prepare a place for us. The Second Reading (Ephesians 1:17-23) recounts the nature of that glorious state of the ascended Lord whom the Father has placed “at His right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come.” This gives indication of the proper eschatological future of men and women. It is a future that leads us back to where we came from; to a state of nobility and dignity superior to what we had lost at the fall. It is a future that situates us in glory and never in shame. It is a future that illumines the present and guides us to positively improve on our past choices. It is a future that brings us together in the most perfect way possible into the Family of God. The Ascension of Christ invites us to evaluate our style of life and to ascertain if we are focused on that which makes us different from the world and if we are truly on the path of salvation. It is impossible to ascend when our focus is fixed on that which is below. Christ always had the attitude of raising His eyes towards heaven. It was never an empty gesture. It was rather a lesson for us to know where what matters most is to be found. When we take note of and focus on what matters most, namely Eternal Life with God, every other thing receives its proper meaning and ourselves are guided on the right path.

Ascended Lord, give us the grace never to grow so heavy with the things of this world as to lose the required figure to ascend with You to our heavenly Father at the end of time. May Your Holy Spirit come anew into us to help make this transformation possible within us; Amen. Happy solemnity of the Ascension of Christ;

Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE

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