Our reading today from the Acts of the Apostles describes for us the ascension of the Lord into heaven. “When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” The next verse is equally important. “While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” Now, add to this the first verse of today’s gospel. “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
Two essential movements intertwine in the mystery of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. The first and most obvious of these is the movement of ascent. Jesus breaks through the boundaries and barriers of this material cosmos and enters into what is eternal and ultimate. In the ascension we discover anew that we are made for eternity and our ultimate destiny is to exist forever in the heart of God.
The second movement, flowing from this first, is that the ascension pushes us outward and onward. “Why are you standing there looking at the sky…Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” The ascension of Jesus reveals our dignity as children of God and our ultimate destiny to live for eternity in that relationship of great honor and glory. This must be shared, allowed to shape the present world we live in, increasingly breaking down structures of oppression and discrimination and expanding the horizons of peace and respect in every relationship.
The explosive reality at the center of this mystery of ascension is something that can only be communicated and made effective for us by God. It is the Holy Spirit alone who can both lift us upward with Jesus and explode the horizon of our spirits outward in proclamation and service to the kingdom.
Let us share this Act of Consecration to the Holy Spirit, written by St. Pius X:
O Holy Spirit, divine Spirit of light and love,
I consecrate to You my understanding, my heart
and my will, my whole being for time and for eternity.
May my understanding be always submissive
to Your heavenly inspirations and to the teachings
of the Holy Catholic Church, of which You
are the infallible Guide.
May my heart be ever inflamed with love of God
and of my neighbor;
may my will be ever conformed to the divine Will,
and may my whole life be a faithful imitation
of the life and virtues of Our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father
and You, Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.