What does the Ascension mean to us?

57
Fr. Danny Ferrandiz

By Father Danny Ferrandiz
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

Looking back into history, we see that monarchy is a common form of government. Led by a king and a queen, everything is pre-determined. The leader has sovereign control over everything. The royal family is considered an embodiment of the nation’s identity. There is a good reason for this – when power is concentrated on one set of hands, a government can act fast and good.

However, there is a problem. When a good king dies, there is no assurance that the next in line would be as good as the former. With the power concentrated on a single family, a society could be stuck with an abusive heir for a long time. And we have seen this happen in history. Not all kings were wise and good. Some were weak, selfish, and shortsighted. Some kings bring peace to the nations while others make the lives of people miserable.

We have the story of Charlemagne. He united and Christianized most of Europe, but when he died in 814, his empire was divided among three selfish sons who destroyed what he had done. His descendants lacked the benevolent and religious devotions that he had.

Another is King Louis IX of France. He reigned for almost 70 years. His vast kingdom spread justice and mercy, but his sons and grandsons ended up sowing the seeds of division that would soon tear apart the rich fabric of Christendom. 

Their reign ended and so their influence. But there is one king, wiser and better than any other, who has come back from the dead. His name is Jesus Christ, and his kingdom will last forever. This for me is what the ascension proves. That Christ is the one, true God because he was the only one who has ascended to the throne of heaven – not Buddha, not Confucius, not Mohammed. 

His ascension is his crowning glory when the Father exalted him to the right hand of God. It testified his personal, physical, and glorious return to heaven. By this mention of St. Luke, we the readers will have the right idea about the ascension that it really happened; it was not just symbolic ascent. Christ’s body and soul were taken up into heaven. 

In heaven, Jesus sits in his body, soul, and divinity. The ascension tells us of the truth of the establishment of the kingship of Christ in an unshakable ground. His kingship is not like the earthly kingship that ends in death. His kingdom cannot be destroyed and so the church that he established. 

St. Paul summarizes this in Ephesians 1:17-23 when he said that God made Christ the everlasting King, “raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named.” 

Having realized its meaning, what does the ascension of Jesus mean to us? A king demands faithfulness from his subjects. If we stayed faithful to Jesus Christ, our King, he would stay faithful to us. And his continued presence will remain with us. So, what do we do so Christ would remain with us?

Be connected with the Church and the Sacraments. “If you do my commandments, I will remain with you and you will remain with me.”

Avoid religious relativism expressed in religious tolerance – which means giving in to sin because we don’t want to offend people.

Avoid religious indifference – which means that we follow that which only suits us. We give in to the world rather than defend the truths of God. 

This is the mission that the angel reminded people when they were still standing looking up at the sky when Jesus was already out of sight. “You men of Galilee why are you still standing here looking up the sky” (Acts 1:11). The angel reminds us to go and fulfill our mission of “preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins in his name to all the nations.”

As we profess our faith and as Christ nourishes us with his own life in holy Communion, let’s renew our firm belief and faithfulness in him. And let’s ask for the strength never to be ashamed of the truth of Christ, the only truth that will truly set us free.