The human experience of picking oneself up after having fallen down has often been used to symbolize today’s reality of the failure-success syndrome. But, from a religious point of view, the “down-up” experience can also be used to describe the feast of the Ascension of Jesus. To wit: God became human in the person of Jesus Christ. The liturgical season celebrates that, and much more.
How so? Well, the “liturgical year” comprises annually the entire life of Christ. So that when we come to Sunday Mass we notice that the church is displaying different colors emphasizing certain aspects of Jesus’ life. These aspects are celebrated via the image of a circle (maintaining its annual repetition).
For instance, God becomes human in the person of Jesus Christ. So, there is expectation (Advent) and fulfillment (Christmas.) Secondly, Jesus performs his ministry of justice, compassion, healing and encountering challenge confrontations. There are some who are unhappy with what he has to say, so Jesus undergoes suffering and death (Lent). But as “proof” of the validity of his message, he rises from the dead (Resurrection.)
Thirdly, his disciples are to carry on his work of service to others before he returns to heaven (Ascension). Jesus commissions his disciples and promises them the Holy Spirit to give them courage to proclaim the message (Pentecost.) Fourthly, all the disciples (including ourselves) continue the task of preaching and teaching (Ordinary Time.) And this completes the circle, which begins every Advent as a reminder of what our lives should be doing.
In the Gospel for the feast of the Ascension (Luke 24:48-49), Jesus tells his disciples that they are WITNESSES to all that Jesus has said and done. Consequently, he will send them the Holy Spirit.
It is in Baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit which give us the task of becoming witnesses to Jesus’ life and teaching. We should do whatever we can to reflect on the responsibilities brought about by Baptism. And whenever we give good example to others in word and deed, we not only learn to bypass the struggles, but also learn to continue witnessing so that at the time of our resurrection we can, like the super-hero, journey “up, up and away.”