In the midst of the COVID uncertainties and restrictions, the joy of life could be dulled. We need the risen Lord with us these days. Therefore, it might look a bit odd to celebrate the departure of Jesus in this time. But Matthew tells us why we should celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. The ascension of the Lord to Heaven (the departure of the Lord) is also the continued presence of the Lord on earth. Jesus who gave the Sermon on the Mount, instructing the disciples on the new Law of the Lord to follow. Anyone familiar with the Old Testament would see this as a type of Moses on Mount Sinai with Ten Commandments from God. Then, at the end of his earthly life, Moses gave the final discourse from Mount Nebo. Similarly, at the end of his earthly dwelling, Jesus gave his final discourse from a mountain in Galilee. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Through their evangelisation ministry the Apostles are to organise fellowships of disciples. Those fellowships are to make the Risen Christ real and near to the world thereafter.
The most significant message Jesus had for the disciples, before he disappeared into the clouds, was “I will be with your always.” That means he is Immanuel (Immanu = with us, El = God). For some guidance look into the Bible and into the Tradition of the Church. They show us where to find the Risen Lord. Christ is present in the neighbour in need, whenever the disciples gather for fellowship, in the Word of God proclaimed, in the sacraments you celebrate with the Church and through the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you may have to work on your awareness of Christ’s presence to experience the Immanuel, God with us. Recognise Christ where he is and not where you want him to be.