Once a family approached me for blessing because they will be transferring to another locality.  I blessed them and I said I will miss them, even if I know them only by face and not on a name-basis.  While I blessed them, the family members began to cry.   Why the tears? Because it is always difficult to say goodbye. A temporary separation is tolerable.  But a long and definitive separation is a reality hard to swallow. Life goes on but the pain lingers.
Today, we celebrate the farewell of Jesus to his disciples.  The time has come for Jesus to return to his Father.  In the Creed we say: he ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.

We can just imagine how the disciples must have felt.  At the crucifixion they were crushed.  Then at the resurrection they rejoiced again.  Now, they cannot have Jesus forever with them.  Once again he departs.  But in this farewell, the disciples were no longer filled with sadness.  They were filled with hope and optimism.  Why?  It was because Jesus assured his disciples two things we can find in the readings.  The Holy Spirit and his power over all.
First, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit on those who believe in him. The Holy Spirit, the third Person in God, will continue the work of Jesus in the world and in the church.  He is not a substitute for Jesus but the guarantee of God that Jesus will always be present and powerful in the lives of his disciples.  Where the Spirit us, there Jesus will be also. Jesus will be present not in flesh and blood but through the Holy Spirit.  Through the Spirit, we are connected with Jesus in heaven and forever.

Second, Jesus revealed to them his power; his authority. In heaven, Jesus has all the power to receive our prayer, bring it to the Father and grant to us its fulfillment.  Because now, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, an indication of power, a position of great influence.
That is why, when we pray, we are full with hope.  We are optimistic.  Jesus is our Mediator and he is in glory now.  All Christian prayer is made through him. Don’t we say at the end of our prayer: “through Christ our Lord?”  Made in the name of Jesus and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, our prayer becomes effective and powerful for us and for the people around us.
Jesus has certainly returned to the Father but he is still with us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  We feel his presence and his power because where he is, he continues to guide and protect his people.  He is in heaven but is not distant from his people.  He knows what we are going through and he cares.

On this feast of the Ascension, let us lift up to the Lord our special concerns and desires.  As we celebrate him taking up his position in heaven, he continues to be united with us.  And so we are confident that our prayers will be answered, our petitions granted.  Our hearts continue to experience the same effective presence of the Lord that his disciples felt in their own lives.

We thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit who connects us with him and for the power of prayer that gets its effectiveness from his unending love and concern for us. Jesus – Crucified, Risen, Seated in Heaven and… with us still!