What does it matter for us today that Jesus ascended into heaven? While we hear it in both the first reading and gospel today, we also confess it every Sunday and Solemnity in the Creed: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” This is not merely an arbitrary dogma which must be held by all who call themselves Christian, it also most relevant to our own personal spirituality. Probably the most notable aspect of this event for our spiritual lives is that human nature is united with the Godhead forever.
This is important for us because, as the Letter to the Hebrews argues, the God-man Jesus ascended into “heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.” That is, the incarnate Son, God himself, is interceding for us to the Father for our sanctification and final salvation. He does not intercede for us merely in his divinity, but also in his humanity. Thus, in a time when the humanity of so many is demeaned or even denied, the ascended Christ shines out like a light in the darkness, reminding us of the greatness to which we are called as human beings, namely that it is possible for God and man to be totally united and that the power to make this a reality can come only through Jesus Christ. This is one of the surest foundations for our hope, since it proves God cares deeply about us and is interested in every detail in our lives. Despair is not an option for one who firmly holds this article of faith.