I remember, as a child, going to the film “Mary Poppins” and being absolutely taken by the nanny (Julie Andrews) who glided off into the sunset with nothing but her bag and umbrella. It really appealed to me and, when thinking about the Ascension, I couldn’t help but think of that image. However, for the early Christians and ourselves, this imagery is a bit beyond the truth. There is a deeper meaning behind the Ascension.
The feast continues to affirm the reality of the Resurrection and asks of the believer and the Church to respond to the calling of Easter faith. For Easter, far from being one event, is a continuous action of God that transforms the world and empowers the Church to live in the power that brought about the Resurrection. This power caused the fragile little community of the early Church to have energy, courage, imagination, and resources completely disproportionate to its size.
At the personal level, we face our own ‘smallness’ before the multitude of realities that are bigger than life: Pandemics, Wars, Poverty, Starvation, Violence, Addiction… the list is endless. The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is encouraging because it is not a celebration of the absence of God departing for Heaven, but rather a celebration of the knowledge that nothing will separate us from God and the belief that the one who has God lacks nothing. Therefore, the resurrected life shared in Christ uplifts and exalts not just Jesus, but us. We are not insignificant and we, with others as the Church, can overcome all the powers of ‘the world’.
The generosity of God abounds, the Church flourishes and our world is transformed.
“You are not only risen and alive, you are Lord.
This is your ascension, your ascendancy over the whole
You stand over and above all that is best in life as its
You stand above all that is worst as ultimate victor.
You stand above all powers and authorities as judge.
You stand above all failure and weakness and sin
as forgiveness and love.
You alone are worthy of total allegiance, total commitment.
You are Lord.
‘My Lord and my God.’”
(The Living Spirit)
Fr Stephen Berecz