This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. The Ascension marks the final part of Jesus ministry here on earth. During our lives whether we are young or old we will see the departure of many people. Perhaps it is a son or daughter leaving for university or maybe it was someone leaving to go to another country or the hardest departure of all someone close to us such as a family member father mother or whoever passing on to eternal life. Our lives are made up of so many different times and places of departure or leave-taking and this really is what Ascension is about the departure of Jesus to return to the Father. The Apostles must have felt awful they knew that the time was fast approaching when they would have to say their final goodbyes as Jesus returned to the Father.
It marked the beginning of a new time when the apostles have to live in the absence of the Jesus they knew. They had to come to terms with the fact that Jesus will never again walk with them healing the sick and the wounded, preaching about the kingdom of God. He would soon be gone. But Jesus promised to be with them and by association with us through the working of the Holy Spirit the Advocate. Remember when Jesus began his public ministry he was first invested with the power of the Holy Spirit. In his baptism Jesus received power and authority from the Father through the experience of the Spirit. It was in that power, “Filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1), that he began his public ministry. The Spirit marked the time of Jesus’ new beginning, his time of ministry, his time for reaching out to others and ministering to them. Luke closes his Gospel with the instruction of Jesus to his disciples that they are to wait in Jerusalem for the Spirit.
After this last instruction he blesses them and is carried up to heaven. The Spirit makes a new beginning for us as it made a new beginning for the Apostles at the very start of the church. The approaching feast of Pentecost is important because it is a memory of the beginning of the Church as well as a celebration of the Church of today.