Easter tells us that Jesus is himself the first part of new creation;
his ascension tells us that he is now running it.
N. T. Wright
The feast of the Ascension of Jesus to heaven is not a very big celebration. Easter and Pentecost seem to make it insignificant.
I wonder if it’s because it’s an ambiguous feast. Jesus is leaving us – again.
In a poem, the sixteenth century Augustinian Friar Luis de Leon expressed this lament:
And you leave your flock, Holy Shepherd,
in this deep and dark valley,
alone and weeping.
And you, bursting the pure air,
go off to immortal security?
A few weeks ago, reading a section of N.T.Wright’s Simply Jesus, I got a new insight into the ascension.
Referring to the public life of Jesus and his resurrection, Wright suggests:
A new power is let loose in the world, the power to remake what was broken, to heal what was diseased, to restore what was lost. The kingdom that Jesus had inaugurated strangely, mysteriously, and partially during his public career through his healings, feastings, and teachings was now unveiled in a totally new dimension.
But what sense is there of Jesus ascending to heaven. We think of heaven as “out there,” above us all, far off.
But Wright reminds us that “heaven is the place from which the world is run. It is the CEO’s office.”
Today, let us remember that Jesus is “in charge,” even though the world is far from being the “Kingdom of God.”
He is already in charge, but all is not yet fulfilled.
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen him go there.” (Acts 1: 11)
Get moving, share the Good News; be witnesses to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1: 8)
The poem of Luis de Leon is found in Orar la Historia y el Conflicto by Jesús Manuel Sariego and José María Tojeira (UCA Editores, 1999):
Y dejas Pastor Santo
tu grey en este valle hondo, oscuro,
con soledad y llanto.
¿Y tú rompiendo el puro
aire, te vas al inmortal seguro?
The quotations from N. T. Wright were found in the excerpt from Simply Jesus in the volume The 10 Best Books to Read for Easter, edited by Fr. James Martin, S.J.