Ascension Thursday marks a pivotal moment in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church – the solemn commemoration of Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven. This profound event, which occurred forty days after Easter, holds deep significance for us, reminding us of Christ’s victory over sin and death, and the promise of eternal life that awaits us in heaven.

The ascension of Jesus Christ is a testament to his divine nature and mission. As Catholics, we believe that Christ, fully human and fully divine, ascended into heaven to take his rightful place at the right hand of the Father, where he intercedes for us and reigns in glory. This momentous event not only fulfilled the promises of the prophets but also inaugurated the age of the Church, empowering the apostles to proclaim the Gospel to all nations.

The ascension is a source of hope and consolation, reminding us that Jesus Christ is not absent from our lives but present in a new and profound way. Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Christ continues to be present in his Church, guiding, sanctifying and empowering us to be his witness in the world. As Pope Benedict XVI once remarked, “The Ascension does not point to Jesus’ absence, but tells us that he is alive in our midst in a new way.”

Moreover, the ascension challenges us to lift our gaze heavenward and to seek the things that are above. In a world often consumed by materialism, individualism and instant gratification, the ascension invites us to fix our eyes on the eternal truths of the Gospel and to live with a sense of purpose and mission. As St Paul reminds us, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

Ascension Thursday also serves as a reminder of our own destiny and calling as disciples of Christ. Just as Jesus ascended into heaven, so too are we called to ascend – to rise above the cares and concerns of this world and to seek the things of God. This journey of ascent is not easy, nor is it without its challenges, but it is a journey that ultimately leads to the fullness of life and communion with God.

On this Ascension Thursday, let us take time to reflect on the profound mystery of Christ’s ascension and its implications for our lives. Let us lift our hearts in gratitude for the gift of salvation and the promise of eternal life that Christ has won for us. Let us renew our commitment to follow him faithfully, trusting in his guidance and grace as we strive to build his kingdom of justice, peace and love here on earth.