The Ascension of Jesus means a New Life for Us
It’s not really proper to say that Jesus came back to life on Easter, in a way similar to Lazarus, when Jesus raised him. Jesus didn’t just come back to life; He began a new way of life as the Firstborn from the dead. Nor did Jesus abandon His followers when He ascended into heaven as He tells us in today’s Gospel: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He also mentions in Saint John’s Gospel that, “where I am you also may be.”
We can see that there’s something different about Jesus from the accounts we’ve heard in the last few weeks of the appearances of the risen Christ to His disciples. There one minute, gone the next. Unrecognizable and then recognizable. ‘None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord’, and so on.
You might point out that He still had the marks of the passion on His body. The Apostles saw and touched the holes in His hands, feet, and side. This is true because the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t undo His crucifixion, it completes it. Likewise, we too will bring with us into eternity all of the various sacrifices and sufferings we have accepted in this life for love of God and neighbor. These, like the wounds of Jesus will bring us greater glory. Yet, there is also something mysterious about the risen body of Jesus as it seems to be eminently touchable, and yet can pass through locked doors.
What will we be able to do one day with our glorified bodies? Will we be like the Angels able to swim through the depths of the oceans to see and play with all the amazing creatures there? Will we be able to soar throughout the cosmos discovering the beauty of new worlds and witness the birth of stars? Will we be able to experience the winds of a tornado or hurricane without the fear of harm or death? Although exactly what a risen and glorified body will be able to do is not clear, Saint Paul says, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.” Let’s see what Jesus did with His glorified Body.
Jesus tells us that He is present where two or three gather in His name. As Saint Paul explains, “Christ is the Head of the Body of the Church.” If the Church is a body, it must be an unbroken body, according to the words of Paul: “though many we are one body in Christ.” So, with the help of Saint Paul we can understand that the risen and glorified Jesus can be touched and known in this world through His Church.
Jesus also stated quite categorically before His death that He is the Living Bread come down from heaven and that He must be eaten. He didn’t mean cannibalism, but the reception of His Sacred Body in Holy Communion; bread and wine transformed into His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. So we know that the risen and glorified Jesus is truly, bodily, present in the Holy Eucharist.
The Feast of the Ascension should remind us that by remaining a faithful member of His Church, which is the Mystical Body of Jesus, and by receiving Him worthily in the Holy Eucharist, we too can look forward to a new type of life beyond what our human minds could ever imagine!