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Ascension of the Lord - The reasons for hope and joy

Luke’s Gospel ends with the story of the Ascension (vv. 50-53). Before entering the glory of the Father, Jesus blesses the disciples (v.51). 
 
At the end of the liturgical celebrations in the temple, the priest came out of the holy place and pronounced a solemn blessing on the faithful gathered for prayer (Sirach 50:20). After the blessing they returned to their jobs, confident that the Lord would bring to fruition all their efforts and all their hard work. 
 
The blessing of Jesus accompanies the community of his disciples and it is the promise and guarantee of the full success of the work, which are about to begin.
 
The final appeal could only be but to rejoice: the disciples “returned to Jerusalem full of joy” (v. 52). Luke is the evangelist of joy. Already on the first page of his Gospel we read of the angel of the Lord who says to Zacharias, “He will bring joy and gladness to you, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:14). Shortly after, in the story of Jesus’ birth, the angel again appears who says to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I am here to give you good news, great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
 
The first reason why the disciples rejoice, despite not having the Master visibly present with them, is the fact that they understood that he is not, as his enemies thought, a prisoner of death.
 
They have had the experience of his resurrection; they are certain that he crossed first the “veil of the temple” that separated the world of people from that of God. So he showed that everything that happens on earth: successes and mishaps, injustices, suffering and even the most absurd events, such as those that have happened to him, do not escape God’s plan. 
 
If this is the destiny of every person, death no longer causes fear; Jesus transformed it in a birth to life with God. This is the first reason to deal with hope even in the most dramatic and complicated situations.
 
The light of the scriptures made them understand that Jesus did not go to another place, has not strayed, but remained with people. His way of being present is no longer the same, but is no less real. 
 
Before Easter he was conditioned by all the limitations to which we are subject. Not anymore and he can be close to every person, always. With the Ascension his presence has not diminished, but increased! Here is another reason for the joy of the disciples and ours.
 
 
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications
bibleclaret.org
 
Translated by Father John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Father Thomas Thennedyil CMF