The Ascension of the Lord
If the first grace of the Ascension for us, is hope in heaven, a second fearlessness in the face of life and the sufferings and evils of life. Not a “macho” muscular fearlessness, but a humble, trusting, hoping, praying fearlessness. Think of the martyrs. One last thing. Symbolised perhaps in the final blessing Christ gives on leaving his disciples. Today he ascends to become, in the fullest sense, not just our Lord and Head and King, but also our Priest, our Advocate, Intercessor, Liturgist. He is the One eternally turned to the Father on our behalf.
This is why the coming of the Holy Spirit follows upon the “going” of the Ascension. It is the proof of his prayer. “Jesus Christ”, says the Catechism again, “the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, entered not into a sanctuary made by human hands, but into heaven itself, now appear in the presence of God on our behalf. There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he always lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through him. As high priest of the good things to come he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honours the Father in Heaven.”
So today, if we’re given heaven and hope of heaven, if we’re given a share in Christ’s dominion over the world and its power and its threats, we’re also given the true worship of the Father. We’re given a share in the liturgy and prayer of heaven. What did the first disciples do after the Ascension? They went back to the Upper Room, and persevered in prayer with the women and Mary and Jesus’s brethren. It is the Ascension which render Christian liturgy and Christian prayer possible, and Christian Liturgy and Christian prayer are the liturgy and prayer the world has been waiting for. It’s what transform the world. It is what brings the world to God.