This coming Thursday will be the 40th day of Easter and the bible tells us that Christ our Lord ascended into heaven on that day. Oftentimes, people think of the Ascension as the farewell of the Lord to his disciples. The Lord says goodbye because he is leaving them. He is going home to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. However, the gospel today says otherwise.
The Lord is not leaving his disciples. Rather, he is simply disappearing from the sight of the world. But this does not mean that he is abandoning his disciples. Remember the story of the disciples at Emmaus: they recognized Jesus at the breaking of the bread and then, he vanished from their sight. “He disappeared but he did not abandon them,” Blessed John Paul would say. The Lord Jesus said in today’s gospel reading: “In a little while, the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.” The Lord himself assures us that even though the world does not see him, we will continue to see him living among us. He will continue to be with us and we will continue to recognize his presence in our midst. And the one who will help us recognize the Lord Jesus in our midst will be the Holy Spirit: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
The Lord will not leave us orphans. He will come to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gathers us and brings about the presence of Jesus who said: “Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” The Holy Spirit transforms bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us the baptized gives us the interior witness to Christ. He is the Spirit of Truth. He teaches us what is true. He teaches us that Jesus is alive and is among us. The Holy Spirit brings about our communion with the Blessed Trinity: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” Although he sits at the right hand of the Father, Jesus continues to remain in us and we continue to remain in him. And the sign that we remain in Jesus is our obedience to his commandments: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me, and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” We obey his commandments not out of fear but out of love. We love the Lord whom we encounter everyday through the Church and through the Sacraments. The more we love him, the more we keep his commandments. And the more we keep his commandments, the more he reveals himself to us. And as he reveals himself to us, our love for him increases. Thus, we become caught up into the “vicious” cycle of love. We are caught up into the communion of life and love with the Blessed Trinity.
Therefore, let us strive to remain in the Lord who promises to remain with us always. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,” said St. Peter in the 2nd reading. Let us continue to give blameless witness to the Lord by keeping his commandments. Let us keep our consciences clear. Let us remain in his love.
Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!