Do you remember ever being left by someone you love? It is a painful experience, hard to get over. It would be easy to read the story of Jesus' Ascension to heaven and think this is how the disciples felt--but that would be wrong.
The Gospel according to Luke says that the disciples returned to Jerusalem not in sorrow but "with great joy" after the Ascension. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with the character of Jesus' presence and what it means to follow him as Lord.
Many earthly leaders work to make their followers deeply dependent. This ensures the leader will remain important through the years. Christ doesn't lead this way. He does not foster a dependence based on manipulation. Rather, Christ Jesus sets people free to become fully alive, fully human as agents of Divine Love.
The Ascension, far from being a tragedy for the Apostles, proved to be a fulfillment of Jesus' own prophesy and the very means by which they could live and bring the news of the Resurrection "to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
The excitement in the Ascension is linked directly to the knowledge that the Lord Jesus, no longer physically limited to any one place or time, could now truly be "Lord of All." For that reason, today is one of the Principal Feasts of the Church Year and the cause of such great rejoicing in our common life.