As Jesus ‘blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven.’ (Luke 24:51)
If you’d search on the internet for information about the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon you would probably also encounter suggested questions linked to your search. A few typical ones are “How many times have we been to the moon?” or “When did we land on the Moon?” Remarkably most of these questions employ the plural pronoun “We”, even though none of us has ever been near the Apollo spacecraft, let alone setting foot on the actual Moon itself. Similarly, think for a moment how sport fans talk about the teams they each support; “We won on Sunday!” or “We lost to Leicester City”, even though actually doing sports may be the last thing on their minds. Here is that word again. “We”.
It seems that whenever extraordinary things are achieved or whenever something exceptional happen, we as humans feel an innate sense of commonality and kinship with the people who were actually involved in these events.
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord to heaven, the moment when Jesus left the disciples to return to the Father. Through this mystery we know that our human nature, the very stuff of our being, which Jesus shares with each one of us, has also been taken up to into the Father’s glory with him. Then, we ought to feel a renewed sense of commonality and kinship with Jesus because just as our own death has been destroyed through his resurrection, so our human nature has been given a new horizon, a new end, by his ascension. No more condemned children of earth, in the ascension of Christ, we are revealed as creatures destined for the vision of glory in heaven.
As Archbishop Justin put it today quite concisely,
‘The risen Jesus represents our humanity in the heart of God. One like us is in heaven, praying for us and blessing us always.’