Last week the great Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord was celebrated throughout the Catholic world. In some dioceses, the Ascension is transferred to a Sunday. Here in the Ecclesiastical Province of New York, which includes the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, the Ascension is kept on Thursday, May 25. The Ascension lifts up our humanity to heaven with the Lord. A story….
A team of explorers set off from England in the 18th century to navigate the Arctic. Their ship was loaded with great amounts of silver, porcelain, crystal, cut glass and china. By misfortune the ship became stranded with only enough coal for 2 weeks. And so they attempted to walk in the cold….with the treasure! Their dead bodies were found next to sleds filled with the enormous weight of table silver which they had been dragging along through the snow. They were found only a few miles from safety.
I suppose from our perspective we see the absurdity of the situation in which these men had tied themselves to their silver, but how many of our own lives are weighted down by useless nonsense? How much in this life prevents us from soaring and ascending? How much stuff keeps us from our own Ascension? There are many who look at us to see if this “Christianity” makes us any different from the rest of the world. Is it genuine? Does it make an effect in our lives in any way? Does it enable us to ascend from the common and ordinary?
The Ascension is the mirror image of Christmas. Christmas humbly brings Divinity to humanity. The Ascension raises our humanity up to Divinity. The Ascension brings our humanity to its destiny. The Ascension completes the Incarnation by making holy our humanity. This reality ought to give us hope and joy that Jesus is our hope who lifts us up from this life which is sometimes a “valley of tears.”
The Letter to the Hebrews tells us “He has gone before us, not to abandon us, but to be our hope. Where He has gone, we one day hope to follow.”