In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” On that day, Jesus rose above the familiar boundaries of our earthly reality. While his ascent appeared to be a literal rising upwards, in reality it was a rising into another dimension, drawn into the “cloud” of the Father’s presence and so passing beyond their sight. And yet, the “heaven” into which Jesus rose is not a far distant realm. Indeed, it is no longer entirely distinct from earth. Jesus’ humanity now enjoys divine splendor, but retains its own reality, a sign to us that earth itself is destined to be transformed and imbued with the life of heaven. We wait in faith, hope, and active charity, for that finality to come about, when Jesus will return to bring the Kingdom to completion.
—Fr. Rick McGurn, SJ, is a retreat director at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.
‘Marana tha,’ Our Lord, Come!Please share the Good Word with your friends!