A famous Filipino-American stand-up comedy artist was interviewed on television about the perks and perils of his occupation. Known to heavily invest on family humor, involving his mother and his son, the interviewer asked whether his now teenage son protests being dragged into the fray.  The comedian replied that his son has no choice but to agree to it, for otherwise there will be no college fund, no new rubber shoes, no travel or vacation allowance! It must happen this way, even if it may be uncomfortable for the kid!

If the disciples had their way, most certainly they would never have allowed Jesus to leave. Experiencing Jesus’ absence even just for three days turned their world upside down. There was the grief, the pain of loss, the helplessness, the sense of having lost all, when the Lord Jesus was taken from them. Now that he is back in their midst as the Risen and Victorious One, they must have wanted him to remain forever. Why should his return be brief? Why can’t they claim him again as one of the pack?

For Jesus the Ascension must have been a painful chapter of his life too. Yes, he was eager to be reunited in glory with the Father. He was relieved that at last, the mission has been accomplished. But he also forged the best of human relationships with the men and women who followed him. It was their company he enjoyed; their banter he delighted in; their warmth and friendship he cherished. Coming back from the dead, would he not have preferred to share his experience of new life longer with his disciples? But for Jesus, the Ascension meant separation from the ones he loved.

The Ascension must happen for the work of salvation to flourish and continue. The Resurrection was not meant to be a victory party or a reunion of kindred spirit. The mystery of Jesus’ life must now give way to the continuing mystery of other gifts from God, most notably, the gift of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus will not go, then the Spirit will not come. And it is now the Spirit who will complete the work of Jesus in the hearts of disciples and in the hearts of many more who will come to believe. The Ascension is the price Jesus and the disciples have to pay for God’s people to move on and progress in their life of faith, hope and love.

In our lives we wonder why good things should sometimes end so soon. We question why we must trade a cherished item in order to get another. Why is is that we cannot keep together all the good things we love? A parent must go abroad to sustain the family. A student needs to leave the campus to pursue higher dreams. A loved one must die to bring together scattered family members. A relationship must end so that both parties may grow.

Let us pray to the Lord for the grace of the Ascension. May we accept the things that must happen so that we can receive the gifts that are to come.