A team of explorers set off from England in the 18th century to navigate the Arctic. Their ship was loaded with great amounts of silverware, 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. 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 things? How much in this life prevents us from soaring? 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. 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? Does it allow us to soar above?
The Ascension is the mirror image of Christmas. Christmas brings Divinity to humanity. The Ascension brings humanity back to Divinity. The Ascension brings our humanity to its destiny and ultimate purpose. 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 Ascension tugs at us—calling us to soar above.
A boy and his father were flying a kite on the beach. The kite ascended so high that it could no longer be seen. It had passed beyond their sight. The boy asked his father how he knew the kite was still there. The father responded that he could feel the kite tugging at him from beyond the clouds. It was as if the kite was calling him heavenward; calling him to soar above.
The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that in the Ascension “Jesus has passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us, but to be our hope. Where He has gone, we one day hope to follow.”
-Fr. Gerard Gordon