A few weeks ago, I was in the Holy Land with a group of pilgrims, and together we visited the Chapel of the Ascension, in Jerusalem. The little stone chapel is right where the Gospels describe the event occurring, that is, somewhere near the town of Bethany. The building passed through many different religious hands over the centuries, thanks to the constant political changes in the Holy Land, and eventually it ended up as a mosque. But it’s open for all to see, and I’m always glad to pray there.
This week we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus Christ, which the Gospels describe as Jesus being as taking up, bodily, into heaven. For me, that mysterious event has two important meanings. First, our bodies are important. Remember: after his Passion and Death, Jesus returns to the disciples with his body, still showing his wounds. And at the Ascension he wasn’t just taken up “in spirit.” It’s a reminder to all those who try to remove the body from the spiritual life. That leads to a second insight: Jesus is with the Father. At the end of his public ministry Jesus is brought into complete union with the Father. So one question to ask ourselves this week: What place does your body have in your spiritual life?