|Jesus ascending to heaven. Painting by John |
Singleton Copley (source: Wikipedia)
My answer is a big ‘Yes’ to all of the questions above.
Why not? Even though I am well aware that Christ is still with us today, in the most personal way, I still need someone with skin, whom I could look up to and learn from. Whose voice I could hear vividly; whose hands I could hold; to whom I could write to for advice... well you know, all along that line. In short, I just want Him to be present physically. Here. On earth. Where I can see Him.
Perhaps, that is why the Feast of Ascension has never been my favourite. Yes, I knew its importance - it was merely a head-knowledge and never heart-knowledge. I imagined myself being with the Apostles, witnessing Him being taken up to Heaven. He said He would be with the Apostles until the end of time, which sounded convincing and the Apostles were hopeful. But wait, who's the Holy Spirit? How long do we have to wait? How can we recognise him? No wonder some of them doubted (Mt 28:17).
I have been questioning the Lord, “What is there to celebrate? You left Your Apostles to fend for themselves!”
The passing of John Paul II changed all that. Oh wait, maybe it was the Canonisation I attended that changed that.
As I mourned the absence of John Paul, a very good friend said this to me: “It is better that he goes back to the Father. Unless he goes back, he would never get to know you. And now that he is a saint, you can be sure that he hears you. You’ve got an intercessor and a friend in Heaven! Is it not better that way?”
This Ascension, I asked the Lord a different set of questions.
If You were physically present in the world today, would I have experienced You the way I did – most intimate and personally? Would I even have the opportunity to meet You face to face, when millions of people fight their way towards You, just like what's been happening at the Vatican with Pope Francis (and particularly at the Canonisation of JPII and John XXIII!)? Could You even reach out to people individually, far and wide, without the coming of the Holy Spirit? Could the Church grow to what she is today?
How crucial it is that Jesus goes back to the Father! How crucial it is that the Holy Spirit is sent!
This year, it is a different Ascension for me. I learned to let go of that sorrow of losing John Paul II. Perhaps, this very reflection also prepares me for the many “letting-go” (and detachment) I have to make in the future, be it people or materials.
It is by letting go that we enable God to give us something even better.
I shall not let Pentecost pass me by this time!
**The popular "Let It Go" song playing in the background**