THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD, which the Church celebrates at the end of the Easter season, is hard to explain to a lot of contemporary people. The key to understanding both the meaning and significance of this feast is a recovery of the Jewish sense of heaven and earth.
We tend to think of salvation as an escape from this world—this vale of tears—to a disembodied state called “heaven.” Biblical cosmology sees heaven and earth as interacting and interpenetrating fields of force. On the Biblical reading, salvation is a matter of the meeting of heaven and earth, so that God might reign as thoroughly here below as he does on high.
The Church, guided by the Holy Spirit down through the ages, is meant to be the privileged place where this coming-together happens. In good preaching, in great Christian art, in the architecture of our churches and cathedrals, in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, in the lives of the saints, and perhaps especially in the liturgy, earth and heaven meet.
The Ascension is Jesus’ journey, not to another place, but to another dimension. What the angels who appeared to the disciples [after He ascends] are hinting at none too subtly, is this: under the influence of Jesus’ spirit, get to work! Do all that you can to foster the marriage of heaven and earth!
Bishop Robert Barron, Why the Ascension of the Lord Matters
Original in wordonfire.org, May 27, 2011.