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Reflexion on the Ascension of the Lord

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Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. We must frame this solemnity in the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ which we began to celebrate on the afternoon of Holy Thursday with the celebration of the Lord's Supper Mass. Throughout these Easter days, we have been proclaiming and celebrating Jesus Christ who is alive and risen in our midst as His Church.

The celebration of Easter has had a special connotation this year for all of us since we are amid humanity plagued that sows death, loneliness and abandonment. Nevertheless, the hope of faith leads us to proclaim loud and strong: Christ is risen! We proclaimed it even in this context of death because today we celebrate the Lord as the Judge of the history that is marked by pain, suffering, need, absence and death, but at the same time, it is a history that is also assumed and lived from man´s faith. therefore, it allows us to proclaim that death does not have the last word on us because we rely on the Risen and Exalted Crucified.

Galileos, what are you doing standing there looking at the sky? The same Jesus who has left them to ascend to heaven will return as they have seen Him leave. This is what we hear in the account of the first reading, from the book of the Acts of the Apostles. This has been –and continues to be- the great temptation of the Church: to look at heaven, ignoring this world, which for us is a place of salvation and mercy.

Lucas's question contains a promise: He will return as they have seen Him leave. The fulfilment of this promise was made in the wonder of Pentecost and is still being done in our midst by the presence of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who makes possible this new presence of Jesus in our midst through the proclamation of his Word and the celebration of the sacraments of faith, especially the Eucharist. For that reason, Saint Leo the Great beautifully tells us in the second Sermon on the Ascension of the Lord that vision has been replaced by instruction, henceforth our hearts, illuminated by heavenly light, must be supported by this instruction.

The Ascension of the Lord supposes for us his physical absence and the demand to assume his new presence, but it also supposes to assume our last and most definitive destiny. In the preface to today's mass, we will sing: He has not left to ignore this world, but has wanted to precede us as our head so that we, members of his Body, live with the ardent hope of following him in his kingdom. Committed to this history and to this world, a place of salvation, Christians do not lose sight of the fact that our final destination is the fullness of communion with the Lord through love in eternity.

Then, brothers, it is necessary to remember that the Ascension of the Lord must be a continuous demand in our life of faith in discovering the new presence of Jesus in our midst, His sacramental presence in the Eucharist, and His presence on every one of the events that we live in the daily life of our existence. The liturgy tells us that Christ is still present in us, but without faith, it is impossible for us to discover this presence. This history that we live is a history of salvation just if we assume it with an attitude of deep faith and responsible commitment.

The commitment of faith requires at the same time the evangelizing commitment to the world. Today's Gospel ends saying that they returned to Jerusalem with great joy after prostrating themselves before him. Also, they were continually in the temple blessing God. This is a commitment to the world which does not mean allying or letting oneself be caught by it, but living always facing God, blessing him and being signs of His love in the midst of history.

Finally, the Ascension of the Lord invites us to assume the provisional nature of everything that exists. Nothing in this story has a definitive and eternal character. For that reason, We, Christians are always on the way through this world as pilgrims, always invited to keep our eyes fixed on who initiates and completes our faith. As the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, in search of the future city, the Jerusalem of heaven. The eternal life we ​​begin to live here and now. We cannot ignore history, but without losing consciousness of its provisional condition.

By Fr. Ángel Villasmil, OP.