The astonishing joy of the Ascension
Just as the authentic reality of the Resurrection is shown by the transformation of the followers of Jesus from grief to wonder and gladness, so something very similar happens at the Ascension. It is the last of the post-Resurrection appearances, and we might imagine that the disciples of the Risen Christ would be saddened by His departure from them. On the contrary, St Luke tells us that ‘they returned to Jerusalem with great joy’ (St Luke 24: 52). The Lord had shown them the greater truth that from now on He was closer to them than had ever been so on earth. The disciples understood this. They knew that to find Him now, they did not have to follow Him across the lake or into the desert or up a mountain. They simply needed to turn to Him in faith. They waited for the promised gift of the Spirit to confirm the relationship between the believer and God, but even now they knew that nothing could separate them from the Lord. So they returned to Jerusalem, the place of His Death and Resurrection, and they were indeed filled with great joy. It is the same joy, sustained by the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, which characterises our Christian life today: through prayer, sacrament, and scripture, we live in the most intimate closeness to God that is possible until He calls us to Himself at the end.
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TAGS: Bishops Letter