The lifting up of Jesus to heaven brought to a close the 40 days of his resurrection appearances. The disciples would soon now experience him as a life-giving Spirit within them.
So what does this ascension of Jesus mean for us? Our humanity now has a place forever within the very life of God if we stay united with Christ. Christ promised that he would go and prepare a place for us. This promise is fulfilled by taking his own resurrected humanity up to the very heart of the Trinity. Now there exists within the heart of God the resurrected humanity of God the Son. You and I are connected to Christ’s resurrected self via our baptism and our continued life in him. If we stay joined to him we too will have an eternal home within the Trinity, not simply looking at God but living life in God. One day we too will be fully lifted up.
This lifting up begins even now, much like our resurrection does. Our being raised to life in God reaches its culmination at the end of time with the resurrection of our bodies, but even now, we participate in our resurrection by our present conversion of heart, mind, body and soul to all that is love. As St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross said, “Love will be our eternal life.”
So what around me or within me still needs to be lifted up? What has not yet entered the realm of eternal life? What around me has not yet encountered love? It may be a friendship that has not yet experienced the blessing of both individuals knowing and sharing Christ. It may be a marriage that needs recommitment or forgiveness. It may be that we ourselves have to change to allow some brokenness, weakness or sin to be healed and taken up to God so as to now bear life. Through his ascension we understand that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us in our brokenness and he is now the bridge into the Trinity.
All that is human, save sin, now has a home, so to speak, in God. All that is human can be directed into the very heart of the Trinity for the glory of God. Thus my work, my daily car ride, my tending of children, grandchildren, the making of beds and meals, can all be lifted up. Most especially our suffering can be taken up in Christ for the glory of God. In suffering we can offer our faithfulness in prayer, our weariness of body and our steady commitment to the truth that God is with us and he is love. All our life can be offered to the Father via the bridge that is Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Even our death when accepted in obedience can be an act of loving trust that mirrors Christ’s. Look around you today. What could you help lift up in love to heaven?
Questions for Reflection
1. What in my life could be lifted up?
2. What in my life can have no part in eternity?
Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Bernard Parish, Green Bay.