I always have trouble with The Ascension. It’s become a little bit of a joke between God and myself. When I’m praying my rosary in the morning, I always have to think a minute to remember what comes after the Resurrection in the Glorious mysteries. And then I remember, oh yes, the Ascension, and laugh a little, and get on with my prayer.
The Ascension has never completely made sense to me. Intellectually I understand the whole thing about Jesus returning to heaven to be an Advocate for us with the Father. Plus it makes sense on a practical level. Jesus wants to have a deep, intimate relationship with every one of us, which would pretty difficult if he were still physically on earth, bound by matter to one physical location at a time, with a limited amount of time that would have to be guarded by gatekeepers. I mean, I know that my local bishop is my spiritual father, but that doesn’t mean I actually get to see the man more than once a year at most, and that’s only if I go specially out of my way to see him. I feel lucky that once, a few years ago, I had an actual conversation with him. And while I know that he cares about me as he cares about all of the souls entrusted to his care, I would not call my relationship with him deep nor intimate. If my relationship with Jesus were on that level, there wouldn’t be much point to being Christian. Plus, what would it do to the meaning of the Eucharist to have Jesus himself physically still on earth? So that much makes sense.
However, in my heart of hearts, in the irrational side of me that does not like the idea of being left behind, the part that still remembers what it was like to be a five year old who suddenly realizes that her family has left the house and forgotten all about her, I don’t understand the Ascension. I don’t see why Jesus had to leave us. I want him here, someone I can see and touch and hug. I mean, hugging a Tabernacle may technically be the same thing, but it’s not as comforting as putting your arms around a live person, and feeling them hug you back.
However, I’ve come to understand that part of living in this world and yet preparing myself to live eternally in the next is accepting this kind of discomfort. Our world here will never be perfect, will never be everything we want it to be, because this world is not our home. My home is really in heaven, where at long last I will be able to put my arms around my God, and feel him hugging me back.
I do believe that it will be worth the wait.