And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.Matthew 28:20
I love to imagine what it would be like to witness events like these firsthand. When I meditate on the Transfiguration, the Resurrection, and the Ascension, I like to picture myself there and think of what I would see and feel. I imagine that the disciples were sad that Jesus was leaving, knowing that they would miss him. As they watched him ascend into Heaven, I’m sure they were awestruck, fixing their gaze on their Lord until they could no longer see him. If I were there, I’d find myself meditating on the words that Jesus left us with, repeating them in my heart. “I am with you always.”
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It was necessary that Jesus ascended into Heaven so that the Holy Spirit could come to be with us. Referring to him as “the Advocate,” Jesus told his disciples that when he returned to his Father, he’d send the Holy Spirit to be with them. Ten days after the Ascension, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on Pentecost, as Jesus had promised. The Holy Spirit helped the Twelve to evangelize and share the Gospel. He’s still with us today to share his gifts with us. Because we’re Jesus’ disciples too, the Holy Spirit still helps us to stay rooted in Christ.
However, this doesn’t mean that Jesus no longer abides with us. He promised to be with us always, and we can still find him even though he doesn’t physically walk with us. The most obvious place where we can find him is in the Eucharist. In the Blessed Sacrament, we find his true presence as he gives us the gift of his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. More than this, we can still feel him with us at home, at work, at school, and wherever we go. We might not be able to see him, but this is where faith comes in.
At first, the Ascension might seem like Jesus is leaving us to stay in Heaven, but this isn’t the case. He returned to his Father to give us the grace to continue his ministry. By sending us the Holy Spirit and imparting the Great Commission, we continue to know, love, and serve him while helping others to do the same. Disciples eventually resemble their discipler, so by following Jesus, we become like him. In this way, he’s still with us even after the Ascension, and he abides with us even more closely than before.
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