In the final analysis, what was the significance of Jesusí Ascension into heaven?
The fact that he had risen from the dead had been established in that the community of the disciples believed this with a high degree of certainty.
He had made himself known in one way or another to most of them so that it could be said that they had actually experienced the reality.
The lynch pin doctrine of Christianity had clearly taken root. As Paul would later say, "If Christ is not risen, then all else is in vain."
So, once again, what is the significance of the Ascension?
Well, to begin with, it speaks imaginatively of realities way beyond our comprehension.
Jesus actually ascending into heaven is clearly not of literal importance.
Heaven, the spiritual environment of eternal joy in the presence of God is not a "place" ...so you donít go up to it any more than you go down to its antithesis, hell.
I believe that it is just another case of the accidentals being confused with the substance.
What I find to be of great interest is that here we have Jesusí last words, or, at the very least, an approximation of his last words. The sacred writers agree substantially on what he said. It was so comforting and hopeful.
"I am with you until the end of the world."
Remember that no one actually witnessed the Resurrection and now we have Jesus, in the presence of reliable associates, about to bring an end to his physical presence on earth, assuring the world at large that he would never be reduced to being just a memory.
I will always be with you because "I am ...now and forever, I am, you can never say of me that I was!"
This is Jesus speaking ...Jesus who so closely identifies with you and with me in the Eucharist and in the smallest acts of charity ...Jesus who said he was going before us to prepare a place for us ...Jesus who said, "You will not see me again but I will be with you ...you will never walk alone."
A Canadian mother whose soldier son recently died in combat said of him, and in so doing said it all, "He is not with us physically. But we have not lost him. He has not left us."
That is the significance of the Ascension. For Jesus, for us all.