My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Ascension of the Lord moves our focus. First it moves our focus from our own issues to the mystery of heaven. We are like those disciples from the Acts ‘staring into the sky.’ There are lots of happenings in our life, happy or sad, which can cloud our vision, which can overpower our attention. The mystery of the Ascension faces us with a new horizon. Of course the sky above our heads is not the limit but the beginning of searching for something deeper and more profound. This is the explanation for our joy at Jesus’ ‘departure’: ‘for the Ascension of Christ… is our exaltation.’
Secondly the Ascension of the Lord after having focused us on the mystery of heaven moves us back to the mystery of our own life. Can you remember where the disciples saw the angels after ‘a cloud took Jesus from their sight’? The angles ‘were standing near them.’ The Gospel of Matthew, of which the final verses we have just heard, begins with the announcement to Joseph that the Son of his fiancée Mary will be Emmanuel which means God-is-with-us. The final words Matthew wrote in his Gospel are the words of Jesus who said: ‘Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’ He is not just in our thoughts. He is with us because he is in heaven. Because Jesus loves us to the end he is with us to the end. He is with us along all the way to the end. He has drawn the Holy Spirit into this presence as well. The Holy Spirit who fills him fills us as well. We become ‘his witnesses… to the ends of the earth.’ Look what is happening here: We don’t want to keep Jesus for our benefit but we give ourselves to Jesus and for the benefit of his mission. Do you have weak faith? Don’t despair! Look at the disciples from the Gospel for today. When they met Jesus on the mountain, just before his Ascension ‘some hesitated.’ It means they had doubts. How did Jesus deal with that? He gave them a mission, or to be more precise he had included them in his mission of saving people. He said: ‘As you go, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.’ The disciples of the mountain of the Ascension were given a mission not because they were ready and strong. They were given a mission as a remedy to their doubts. Participating in the mission of Jesus was to heal them of their doubts. Participating in the mission of Jesus was to increase their faith.
This is the remedy Jesus offers us. If you find in yourself doubts and little faith ask yourself very concrete question: What can I do to help other people to grow in faith? How can I be a witness of Jesus to the people around me? If you dare to ask yourself these questions and if you dare to answer these questions you will find that your faith grows. This is what St John Paul II reminded all believers: ‘Faith is strengthened when it is given to others.’