There are many stories to help us reflect on the ascension of the Lord. One of them says that when Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels gave him a great surprise party. At a certain point one asked him: "now that you have ascended into heaven... who is going to continue on earth your work?" He spontaneously replied: "my disciples" to which another one wondered... "don't you have a plan B?"
It was a fair question considering the experience he had with the apostles after two or three years walking together.
I'd like to point out two elements from the Gospel of Luke
- The experience of the ascension underlines the mission entrusted to the apostles and to us all to be witnesses. "You are witnesses of these things". This is a great link to the book of Acts where we will find many times the apostles saying exactly that: we are witnesses of all this... Take time to reflect on this. Take time on what it means to be a witness. It only becomes clear when, like it happened to me years' ago, you witness an accident and the police asks you: are you ready to testify in court? Nomusa told me she was called to testify in court. One day she was home and the son of the neighbour arrived in a car. He was looking for his parents. They were not there. He asked her where they were. He then left. Nothing wrong, isn't it? Well... he was driving a stolen vehicle! She had to testify she saw him driving that vehicle. She did not want to. She knew the risk.A witness talks about what he/she saw. We talk about God's presence in our life, what we really believe, what – who leads us daily... A witness somehow puts his life, reputation at risk... Lawyers on one side or another would try their best to proof you wrong, to proof you are lying, to proof you cannot be trusted... That is why many people would prefer to avoid becoming witnesses. Could it be the same in our daily life when called to witness our faith?
- We are not on our own. "I send the promise of my Father upon you... until you are clothed with power from on high". This prepares us to celebrate the feast of Pentecost next Sunday. The Spirit leads us. When celebrating confirmations I used to remind all that it is not a "once off" injection to protect us or give us strength but a daily gift of the Father we ask for.
Like the Apostoles, after two thousand years we still experience the need to be led by the Spirit so that we can become Good News in today's world.
The celebration of the Ascension of the Lord calls for these two elements to be present daily in our lives: being witnesses, by the power of the Spirit.
Fr Alberto Maggi OSM says: "non è separazione, è unione più intensa". It is not separation but a deeper union.