What do we celebrate on Ascenson-day? Why Jesus’ returning to the Father is a feast? How can could it be a cause for your - for the disciples, and for us, today?
When we depart from someone we love, it is painful. However, when waiving goodby, in that very gesture, in that moment shadowed by sorrow, the joy of seeing each other again is always present. This joy, like a germinating seed, is present of saying goodby.
Our Christian faith teaches us that actually it is this joy which dominates Jesus’ ascension to Heaven. We are celebrating this joy today. And this ‘joy’ means all what makes us Christians, what we cherish as important to our faith and Christian life.
Thus, we celebrate the gift that from now on we can look at all challenging situations in our lives not only in terms what we experience first: pain, anxiety, sadness, or fear. We know, as the gift of our faith, that when we recognise our Lord in that situation, there is joy, hope, growth, peace, reconciliation, and reunion. ‘The moments of joy when seeing Him again’. In brief, we can see everything in hope - nothing is outside hope.
We also celebrate an another important thing. Actually, it is a task, a call, a duty, which - like the future joy of meeting again - is also waiting for us in Jesus’ Ascension. We love Jesus, we believe in him, we remain in him through prayer and good works, beceuse we know where he is. And this is the second, main gift of Ascension Day. It is a task. We remain in him if we know where he is. If we know who He is, what he is doing on the right hand of the Father. This is the difference between the ‘world’ and us. This is the peace ‘which the world can never give.’ Because we know who and where Jesus is - the world does not.
This is the task given to us on this feast day. We can belong to Jesus, our Saviour, if we know him. If we make the effort of learning about him, learning about our faith, the teaching and customs of the church, which is the community of salvation. Ascension Day implies our mind’s and heart’s contiunuous return to Jesus. This is the task of permanent learning, permanent prayer, permanent repentance. We are called to this daily ‘office’ of divine work. Prayer, charity, mission, and learning: learning of the Bible, learning of the sacraments. Continuous learning. And the surest way of knowing where Jesus is, when we celebrate the Eucharist, and receive the Holy Communion.
There is a practical teaching on receiving the Communion, the surest way of knowing who Jesus is and where He is now; where we anticipate, almost fully, of seeing him Again.
‘Although it is most expedient that those who communicate frequently or daily should be free from venial sins, especially from such as are fuly deliberate, and from any affection thereto, nevertheless it is sufficient that they be free from mortal sin, with the purpose of never sinning mortally in the future; if they have this sincere purpose, it is impossinble but the daily communicatnts should gradually emancipate themselves from even venial sins, and from all affection thereto.’ (The Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual) Classic, old fashioned teaching yet highlights the high-standards given to us on Ascension Day.
This daily work of being a Christian is summed up in the closing words of Saint Matthew’s Gospel. ‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach hem to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..