Christi ascensio est nostra provectio. So did St Leo the Great proclaim to us this morning at Matins. The ascension of Christ is our promotion, that is to say that because our human flesh and bones are now enthroned at the right hand of the Father, encompassed as it were by the Triune Godhead, it is no longer possible to doubt for an instant the dignity of our nature and its exalted destiny. This is why the feast of the Ascension is one of resounding hope in the ultimate triumph of God, of the good, of the goodness of God in the world. The forces of evil may have their day, and they do, they may bark frantically and administer fatal bites to those who foolishly approach them, the ultimate victory of God has already been won by Christ, it is already won by all those who put their faith in the Saviour. It is therefore a day for lifting up our minds and hearts to that celestial throne where our Beloved is glorified and from where He beckons to us. He is our anchor, and from behind the veil, He is pulling us towards Himself with the bonds of love.
Opus consummavi – I have consummated the work Thou didst give me, O Father. So prayed our Lord at the Last Supper. This feast is the feast of completion. On it the Lord Jesus brings to its completion the work the Father had given Him – He came to save us and He left nothing undone in order to achieve that end. These two points are a great lesson for us. Do we long to be united with Our Lord in His heavenly home? Do we make it our passion to aspire towards the fulfilment of God’s plan in our lives? Do we make every effort to achieve as perfectly as possible the work He has given each of us? Are we concerned with bringing as many souls as possible to know our Lord and to be saved? For to each of us has been given a soul to save, our own, but also other souls to touch, to enlighten, to warm up with the fire of Divine Love. It is an awesome task. How do we achieve it? Let us not seek new ways or new formulae that supposedly speak to modern man, and in so doing we abandon the proven paths of our forebears. The path to salvation, the path to perfection, is not to be reinvented in every age. The model has been given to us once and for all. If anyone has gone astray from that path which is Christ Himself, let him go back and take up where he left off. All else is illusion. Opus consummavi. Let us fulfil what the Lord has commanded us.
Ita veniet quemadmodum vidistis eum – He will come again just as you have see Him going up to Heaven. As we strive to complete the work that each of us has been given to do, we do so with the certitude that just as the Heavens have taken Him up, so will they one day give Him back. He will come with power and majesty to judge the living and the dead. When that day comes, our Lord told us to lift up our heads to welcome Him. Only those who strive to imitate Him now will have the confidence to stand before Him when He returns.
During these days that separate us from Pentecost, let us unite with Mary and the apostles in the cenacle. Let us empty ourselves of all this is not God, so that when the Divine Paraclete comes, He may find us empty and so fill us with His sevenfold gift.