Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (though in many dioceses this feast is celebrated on Sunday) and contemplate the glorious mystery of Christ ascending, body and soul, into heaven.
You may look that this feast as one of sadness, and consider that the apostles and Mary must have been heartbroken that Jesus was no longer walking with them on earth. But Fr. John Gordon, a regular Morning Air® contributor, recently shared why the Ascension is a feast of great joy and why it is so important in our lives of faith.
“I think the piece of this great feast that is sometimes missed is that it speaks of the union of the human and the divine within the person of God in a forever kind of way,” Fr. Gordon said.
As Catholics, we believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man. Even after His death and Resurrection, Jesus maintains His human and divine nature. This means that with the Ascension He brings back to the life of the Trinity His humanity as well as His divinity.
“In the person of God, there is something of our humanity,” Fr. Gordon pointed out. “Just as by virtue of baptism something of the divinity of God is inside our humanity.”
St. Athanasius once said, “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” Jesus shows us that we do not need to cast aside our humanity in order to become sons of God. He humbled Himself to share in our humanity, and through this He allows us to share in His divine life.
Explaining what this means in our daily lives, Fr. Gordon said, “It means that the work we do, but especially the work of the Great Commission, has both a human and a divine component to it. There’s the work that we need to do, the environment that we need to foster and support, but also the work of the Spirit in terms of touching people’s hearts.”
On the Solemnity of the Ascension, we recognize that Christ goes to prepare a place for us in heaven, a place where humanity can participate in the life of the Trinity for all eternity, thanks to the saving love of Jesus.