There is a story that when Jesus returned to heaven after his death and resurrection, the Archangel Gabriel was surprised to see him back so soon. Thirty three years is not a long time, especially when you think about the importance and proportions of the task he had been given to do.
“Back so soon?” Gabriel asked Jesus. “Well, I would have stayed longer but they crucified me,” Jesus replied. “Oh, so they crucified you. That means your mission was a failure,” said the archangel. “Not really,” said Jesus. “You see I called together a little group of disciples. They will care on my work.”
“And what if they fail?” asked Gabriel. “I’ve have no other plan,” Jesus answered.
Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. Jesus had preached the Gospel only to Israel but he commissioned his apostles to preach the Gospel to all nations. It was a daunting task but he promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit. He also assured them that he would not leave them orphans but would be with them always.
The Ascension of Jesus is his liberation from all the restrictions of time and space. It does not represent his removal from the earth, but hi constant presence everywhere on the earth. During his earthly ministry he could only be in one place at a time. But now that he is united with the Father, he is present wherever God is present; and that is everywhere.
Other than that promise to be with them, Jesus gave the apostles no other assurances. However, his promise to be with them always gave them the courage they needed to face the challenges that lie ahead of them.
A sense of the presence of Christ with us does not change the world for us, but it gives us that same courage to face it with all its difficulties. God’s closeness reminds us that we are not abandoned or alone.
The Church has survived over 2000 years in spite of the evils that exist within and without. Why? Because Jesus is faithful to his promise, “I am with you always until the end of the age.”
Today, Jesus depends on us to be his witnesses in the midst of all the joys and sorrows of life. The way to witness is to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God. In other words, to live as a Christian. As St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “God does not ask us to be successful. God asks us to be faithful.”
— Father Dennis, May 28, 2017