During the weeks of Easter we reflected on the mystery of death and the good news that death does not have the final word for us. So many of the Gospel stories of Jesus appearing to people after he had died are a way employed by the early disciples to deal with the mystery and meaning beyond what our ordinary words and images can apprehend or convey. Rather than being taken literally, these post-resurrection stories point to an insight and a belief that was good news: death is not the end; in death we are transformed into a new way of living on in God.
The story of the Ascension of Jesus was written at a time when people believed that God lived above the earth. Hence their way of conveying that Jesus was with God, they expressed their belief through the story of Jesus going up from the earth.
No one really knows what actually happens when we die. However, when we celebrate the feast of the Ascension each year and reflect on the story of Jesus’ ascension, we draw hope from the belief that Jesus died into God’s presence and now lives on in a new way. At the same time we are reminded that we are now the ones who are called to bring his life to the world – he has no hands now but ours!