Copyright 2018 - Custom text here

Absent or Present?

The Ascension of Jesus to heaven is one which is very difficult for artists to depict in painting or sculpture. In the English shrine of Walsingham there is a carved wooden sculpture of Jesus ascending in which we only see the feet of Jesus disappearing into a cloud.

This is a very literal and slightly amusing version which doesn’t really help us understand the mystery we are celebrating this Sunday. Because the Feast of the Ascension is not about the absence of Jesus but about his presence. After the Ascension Jesus becomes present to us in a new way. It is true that Jesus would no longer be physically present to his disciples after he returned to his Father, but he hadn’t left them entirely. When he was on earth Jesus was present only in one place at a time to a small group of disciples; seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father he is present to all of his disciples at all times. And this is where we come in. Today’s gospel shows Jesus giving authority to his disciples to carry on his work. Jesus will be with us until the end of time but he has given us all a mission to perform. We are to spread the good news of his triumph over sin and death and to teach others his commandments. The feast of the Ascension is not a day to stare up into the clouds but a day to get on with the task which has been entrusted to us.

f t g m