“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:19
“And when He had said this, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.” ~ Acts 1:9
Yesterday in our diocese, we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension. Other dioceses will celebrate it this Sunday. It is a feast that brings mixed feelings in my heart. Since we celebrate this feast yearly, and because it is one of the glorious mysteries, I get the chance to ponder this event quite often. I am torn in two directions as I place myself in my thoughts on that mountain where the Lord met with His apostles for the last time in person. I picture it to be a beautiful day, the sky full of color. There is joy, because I know He is going to prepare a place for me, as He said, and joy because He is going to the Father, and that He promised to send the Holy Spirit. Knowing that He goes to re-unite with Heaven and with the Trinity brings joy to my heart, for I love Him. True love is willing the good of the other, and I know Him going is for the good.
But there is another element that tugs on my heart, a sadness. There is still joy, and great hope, but there is sadness. He is going… away. We will no longer be walking together, listening to Him as He speaks truth to my heart, looking in His eyes and seeing unfailing Love, for me. That encouragement He gives me with a passing glance, that piety that changes me when I watch Him pray to the Father, the wisdom that He gentles passes on in His words, that joy that fills my heart when He smiles. He is leaving. He is ascending to the Father. My heart is still attached. And it aches for His return.
And so He ascends. How I wish to go with Him! I don’t want to be apart from Him for even an instance. But He is taken up on the clouds, and has disappeared from my sight. My heart filled and emptied, all at once, emptied, and filled.
My sadness fades as I remember His promise. He will come back for me.
And He will send the Holy Spirit to provide guidance and love and fortitude to carry out the great mission He gave – “Go and make disciples of all nations”, go and preach the truly Good News, tell everyone of Him, and of His great Love, bring His Love to each person I encounter, let Him shine through me, so that they no longer see me, but Him, and feel the warmth of His pure Love. And I also remember that He has given me Himself in the Holy Eucharist. We will never truly be apart. When I am at Mass and I receive the Holy Eucharist, I am truly receiving Him, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. We are together. And the more I come to Him, the more He can empty me and fill me. Empty me of my selfishness, my worries, my pride, my attachments, my sins. And fill me… with Him, Love Himself – fill my heart to overflowing. And then that love can be shared with those around me.
These mixed feelings that tug at my heart when I think of the Ascension are also there towards the end of Adoration. After Benediction and the prayers are said, the priest goes to the monstrance and takes the Eucharist out. And again, my heart aches as I watch him take my Savior out, holds Him close, and places Him back in the tabernacle. Oh, how I wish He wouldn’t go. How I long to be with Him. And again, the sadness fades as I remember His promise. He will come back for me. I can be with Him again, at the next Mass, at the next quiet moment in Adoration. He will seek Him and He will find me. And I will rest my heart in His Heart.