If you want to understand the Ascension, think about a marriage.
Traditionally, if a man seeks to a marry a bride,
it is his responsibility to prepare the way for her;
to prepare a home and to provide a living.
And when that’s ready, he comes for her.
Do you recall what Jesus said?
That he would go to heaven to prepare a place for us—
and then come back for us.
Now, this imagery isn’t perfect,
because at this stage of the game,
we Christians aren’t merely betrothed.
Being baptized, and confirmed
and sharing in the holy sacrifice of Christ’s death and resurrection –
that is, the Mass…
All these are marital acts!
When we are baptized, we make vows, don’t we?
If our parents and godparents do it for us,
our turn comes when we make them our own.
And only then do we share the body and the blood.
The Eucharist is a sharing with the Lord’s Body;
his life poured into our lives.
On the Cross, Jesus gave everything.
That’s why what he said on the cross
is so often translated, “It is consummated.”
The Cross is the consummation
of the marriage between God and humanity.
The Eucharist is our participation in that.
There’s a good reason we call it…“communion.”
And, like a marriage couple,
if there are wrongs, they must be confessed.
You tell me, married folks:
does it work better to refuse to admit you’re wrong
and not to seek forgiveness?
And—does it work not to give forgiveness?
Now: Jesus never has any sins to confess to us; be we certainly do.
And with the sacrament of confession, the more we use it,
the healthier our marriage –
both to human spouses and our divine spouse – will be.
Now, when we think about it this way,
everything we believe as Christians about marriage comes into focus:
waiting for marriage, marriage being open to the gift of life,
marriage being for a lifetime, and who marries.
It would make no sense for us, as Christians,
to close ourselves off to his gift of life;
(Added at 8 & 10:30 am Masses:)
to ask to join with him, and yet to say, don't give us the Holy Spirit!
But that's what contraception does: it closes out the gift of life.
so with that, we Catholics have always believed
that marital intimacy must be open always to the gift of life—
because like the Cross, it’s about giving life.
In the Ascension, the Lord went to prepare a place for us.
While he’s there, he’s amply provided for us:
the Holy Spirit, in grace, in mercy, in the sacraments.
This is way better than a mere human marriage.
Couples that are separated physically can ache for each other;
but while we long for the Lord’s return,
we never have to feel his absence!
In the meantime, the bride prepares, too.
And that’s the meaning of our time on earth.
We prepare. And that’s what the command in the Gospel is about:
Go gather the bride. The whole Church.
When Jesus returns for his bride, we don’t want to leave anyone out.