(Jesus said to them:) “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem…and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. (Acts 1)
The Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Luke both record the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. In fact, the Ascension is a kind of hinge-event that links the two books, which were written by the same author. It is also the hinge-event between the earthly life of Jesus and his ongoing presence with us after the Resurrection. Before ascending into heaven, he promises not to abandon us, but to be with us always. He promises to send us the Holy Spirit, who will dwell with us and in us, continuing to guide the church: collectively, through our leadership; and individually, living in us and guiding us.
Jesus’ ascension into heaven also reminds us that he came from heaven and was returning to the Father, to receive the glory and honor he earned by giving his life for us on the cross.
Seated at the right hand of the father, he continues to intercede for us before the Father, showing the Father “his hands and his side”, which show the suffering he endured to redeem us and win our forgiveness from the Father.
Finally, as the prayers of the Mass remind us, “where he has gone, we hope to follow.”