Gospel text (Jn 16,5-11): Jesus said to his disciples, "But now I am going to the One who sent me and none of you asks me where I am going; instead you are overcome with grief because of what I have said. Indeed believe me: It is better for you that I go away, because as long as I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go away, it is to send him to you, and when He comes, He will vindicate the truth in face of the world with regard to sin, to the way of righteousness, and to the Judgment. What has been the sin? They did not believe in me. What is the way of righteousness? I am on the way to the Father, meanwhile you will not see me. What Judgment? The Ruler of this world has himself been condemned".
Comment: Fr. Joseph A. PELLEGRINO (Tarpon Springs, Florida, United States)
Today, we are presented with a deeper understanding of the reality of the Ascension of the Lord. In the reading from the Gospel of John on Easter Sunday, Mary of Magdala is told not to cling to the Lord because «I have not yet ascended to my Father» (Jn 20:17). In today's Gospel Jesus notes that the disciples «are overcome with grief because of what I have said», but that «it is better for you that I go away» (Jn 16:6-7). Jesus must ascend to the Father. Yet, He still remains with us.
How can he go, yet still remain? This mystery was explained by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI: «Given that God embraces and sustains the whole cosmos, the Lord's Ascension means that Christ has not gone far away from us, but now, thanks to the fact that He is with the Father, He is close to each one of us forever».
Our hope is in Jesus Christ. His conquest of death gave us the life that death can never destroy, His Life. His resurrection is a verification that the spiritual is real. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing can diminish our hope. The negatives of the world cannot destroy the positive of Jesus Christ.
The imperfect world we live in, a world where the innocent suffer, can point us to pessimism. But Jesus Christ has transformed us into eternal optimists.
The living presence of the Lord in our community, in our families, in those aspects of our society that can rightfully be called “Christian” have given us a reason for hope. The Living Presence of the Lord within each one of us has given us joy. No matter how great the barrage of negatives that the media delights in presenting, the positives of the world far outweigh the negatives, for Jesus Christ has risen.
He ascended, but He has not left us.