Some years ago, I asked one of my students, a religious sister, what she would say if she were to preach on the feast of the Ascension. Without a second’s hesitation, she replied: “The Ascension is God’s act of faith in us.” Yes. God the Father entrusts to us the mission of his Son Jesus Christ, to share the good news of God’s love.
We believe that on this day Jesus ascends to be seated at the right hand of the Father. He is no longer physically present, going about doing good. But God in turn puts his trust in us, that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can carry on the work. We might call Ascension Thursday the feast of the Christian going on mission – a forward looking mission.
In the Scripture of the day, the angels remind the apostles and us that we are not to look up in the sky (Acts 1:11). Nor, as Jesus reminded us, are we to look back, after putting our hand to the plough (Luke 9:62). And we are not to look down, downcast, as Jesus found the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. We have only one direction to look – and that is forward, look ahead. On this feast of the Ascension, God looks to us, relies upon us, and trusts us to be the continuing presence of Jesus Christ in the world.
Peter Schineller, S.J.