"It is rare, if one has lived through the joy of Easter time sincerely, that one does not experience a certain constriction of the heart when the day of the Ascension comes. We know perfectly well that it is one of the very great Christian feasts, and yet, despite ourselves, it seems like a parting, a separation, and that after it, our Lord is not with us in quite the same way any longer. The disciples did not react like this. They could have been overwhelmed with grief, but, on the contrary, they ‘returned to Jerusalem with great joy’. We, too, can try and enter into this joy of the Ascension. Why does the Ascension bring joy to Christians?
First of all, the glory of our Lord must be very precious to us, and the Ascension is the crown of his earthly mission. He has accomplished on earth the whole mission which he had received from the Father. It is to the Father that his whole being reaches out. Now he will receive from the Father the welcome that his victory over sin and death—a victory gained so grievously—has merited for him. Now he will be glorified in heaven. The glory and the desire of our Lord are surely more important to us than the sort of ‘perceptible consolations’ that we might receive from his presence. Let us know how to love our Lord enough to rejoice in his own joy.
Then the Ascension marks God’s acceptance of the Son’s whole work of reparation. The Resurrection was the first dazzling sign of this acceptance, and Pentecost will be the last sign. The cloud which today envelopes Jesus and ascends with him to heaven represents the smoke of the sacrifice rising from the altar to God. The sacrifice is accepted, and the victim is admitted to God’s presence where it will continue to be offered in an eternal and heavenly manner. The work of our salvation has been accomplished and is blessed."
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