|Ascension of Christ by Salvadore Dali|
Excerpts from Joseph Ratzinger's (aka Pope Benedict XVI) Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two (London: CTS, 2011):
Luke says that the disciples were full of joy at the Lord's definitive departure. We would have expected the opposite. We would have expected them to be left perplexed and sad. The world was unchanged, and Jesus had gone definitively. They had received a commission that seemed impossible to carry out and lay well beyond their powers... Every parting causes sadness. Even if it was as one now living that Jesus had left them, how could his definitive separation from them not make them sad? And yet it is written that they returned to Jerusalem with great joy blessing God (Lk 24:53). How are we to understand this? (pp. 280-281)
"Ascension" does not mean departure into a remote region of the cosmos but, rather, the continuing closeness that the disciples experience so strongly that it becomes a source of lasting joy. (p. 281)
Because Jesus is with the Father, he has not gone away but remains close to us. Now he is no longer in one particular place in the world as he had been before the "Ascension": now, through his power over space, he is present and accessible to all -- throughout history and in every place. (p. 284)
Happy Solemnity of the Ascension everybody!