The Ascension of Jesus reminds me that life is a steady movement -- it is never stagnant or unchanging. One does remain in one stage forever even if we wants to. Why? Without our knowing and sometimes even without our willing it something in us grows. Our body for one grows without our knowing or willing it, so that if our other faculties do not grow with it, our whole person degenerates, we fall off. The mind and outlook of a 12 year old would look funny in the body of a 30 year old. One could not stop the steady flux or progression of life. If he does not grow with it he becomes abberant, he becomes immature. Man has nowhere to go but up or down. He either retrogresses or progresses with life.
The Ascension of Jesus portrays this movement of life. It is another stage in the life of Jesus. His mission on earth is ended and he has passed it with flying colors. Now he sits, as he deserves, at the right hand of God the Father.
The Ascension however is not just another stage in the life of Jesus. It is also another stage in the life of his disciples. For three years he has stayed with them, forming them, teaching them, guiding them personally with his physical presence. Now that physical presence is withdrawn from them. He will no longer be there for them to physically supervise everything. Even if he sent them the Spirit as His advocate his physical presence would have provided a lot of difference. But he could not do that forever not because it is humanly impossible but because it would be humanly detrimental for growth.
In time Jesus has to withdraw his physical presence from them in order that they would grow, stand on their own two feet and become responsible for themselves and with each other. What would have happened if Jesus stayed with them forever? Peter would still be dilly-dallying around with his faith and not assert his leadership. The apostles would have remained the perpetual ra-ra boys of Jesus instead of becoming powerful and determined apostles of the Good News for the whole world.
But when Jesus left them, and with the help of the Holy Spirt, they got out from their hiding places and they took upon themselves the responsibility of bringing the gospel to all creatures without fear of persecutions and death. In the Ascension it is not only Jesus who took the step forward to another stage in his life. The apostles took the same step and they have grown with him.
Today this same invitation is repeated to each one of us -- to grow with Jesus. We could not perpetually remain in the nourishing end of our faith. We have to grow. We have to take responsibility in the faith that was handed down to us. We have to learn to stand on our own two feet and join our fellow Christians in taking up this co-responsibility to perpetuate the memory of our Lord. We should not just remain forever “called”, but like the apostles we have to progress with the life of Jesus by becoming “sent”.