This is not the Solemnity of Jesus’ farewell, this is the Ascension of the Lord!
Jesus ascended so that he can be always present to all of mankind in his divinity and place at the right hand of the Father, the kingly position of Jesus as King of the entire Universe. When Jesus was on earth, he was present to a specific time and place: 2,000 years ago in Israel. By Ascending Jesus breaks through the barriers of time and space and no longer is present to a specific time and place, but is eternally present to all people in all of time through the Holy Spirit.
His ascension had another effect for us too! By ascending he raised up our human nature with him, since he became man and shared in our human nature, in ascending he raised human nature with him.
CCC 1 – Man’s purpose: The share in the divine life of the Trinity.
Kenosis (Jesus’ descending to the earth through the Incarnation)
Theosis – Deification – The raising of humanity to share in the divine life of God (in heaven)
“For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.” – St. Augustine (LotH OOR Ascension)
“Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving, for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation, and, where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope.”
How does Jesus accomplish this process of Theosis? Through the promise of the Father, which has been echoing throughout the gospels this past week. Jesus ascends to send the Holy Spirit upon the Church so He can be eternally present to us and sanctify us, even today!
Jesus in sitting at the right hand of the Father, sits in his Kingly chair as King of the Universe, in order to direct and guide and rule the entire world through the Holy Spirit in the Church.
This is attested to by Jesus Himself today:
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.”
The result of this promise is shown very clearly in the book of the Acts of the Apostles.
While meeting with them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts of the Apostles goes on to tell the story of how Jesus is present to the early Church and how Jesus works in the early Church, in and through the Holy Spirit. Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost, the fulfillment of this promise and the beginning of the Church: the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church.
This has meaning for us here today as well, for just as the Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, was present to and guided the early Church, He does so today, to us gathered here. Each one of us was baptized and received that gift of the Holy Spirit, and most of us are confirmed, through which we received deeper the grace of the Holy Spirit to do the same thing as the first Apostles: to participate in the mission Jesus Christ, by bringing the salvation of Jesus to the entire world!
Not only is Jesus fully present to us here today because of His Ascension, but He continues to sanctify us and raise our humanity to one day share in the divine life in heaven. He also gives us the incredible gift of sharing in that same mission of evangelizing and sharing the salvation of Christ with all those we will encounter in our lives. This is the process of Theosis, the process by which we are sanctified and share in the divine life of Christ, through the Ascension!
One final note since it is Mother’s day.
Mary is our model and our help. She is the first one to receive the fruits of the promise, she was assumed into heaven body and soul, a model of what is to come for those who enter into Heaven and experience the resurrection of their own bodies at the end of time.
May God bless all the mothers gathered with us today and through the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother, may we all be courageous in sharing our faith and come to share in the divine life.