Jesus’ ascension offers promise to all of us

By: By Jeff Hedglen, Catholic News Service

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, May 12

Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11; Psalm 47:2-3,6-7,8-9; Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23; Luke 24:46-53

The subject of death is not something we willingly talk about. It conjures up feelings of sadness, longing for loved ones, fear of our own passing and a realization that life as we currently are living it will not continue forever.

Years ago, my former pastor posed a question to a group of people at a Bible study. He asked for a show of hands: “How many of you are looking forward to death?” Not surprisingly, just a few hands went up. In typical Father Beaumont fashion, he was incredulous, and the exhortation began.

With a power that still resonates in my soul today, he said that we should all be longing for our death, for that is the doorway to heaven. In Jesus, he explained, there is no fear of death, only hope, healing and forgiveness.

Of course, he was not saying we should hasten our death or neglect the realities of life because, after all, we are going to die some day. Rather, he was reminding us of the ultimate meaning of our belief in Jesus. Death is not the end; it is not to be feared; it is to be anticipated with hope and joy for, as the catechism says, it is why we were made.

OPENING DOORS OF HEAVEN
This week’s readings reveal the glorious ascension of Jesus to heaven. The reading from Hebrews seeks to dispel our fears when it says that “through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh.”

Jesus’ death on the cross opens the doors of heaven for us and ushers in a whole new meaning for death.

The Gospel reveals that the disciples did not understand Jesus’ death, then they rejoiced in his resurrection, then he ascended and they were once again left wondering. But that ascension is the promise. We, too, are headed where Jesus headed. Death is not the end and earth is not our eternal dwelling.

It thrills me to no end that Father Beaumont has reached the goal he so fervently preached about. I, for one, cannot wait to join him.

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WORD TO LIFE is a column provided by Catholic News Service in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas. The Catholic Post’s scripture series, “Living the Word,” will return with local authors next issue.

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