There’s Nowhere to Go But Up.

Here’s a slogan for our Feast of Ascension, meaning we have a lot of rising up awaiting, into the victorious realm of Christ Jesus the Redeemer Lord.  This is the Church’s hope. The Way Is Up—in Christ Jesus.  Jesus did say to His Easter followers:  “Where I shall go, you shall follow…you know the Way, it is by Me… I go to prepare a place for you: Heaven.”

There’s Nowhere to Go But Up.  It may sound like a new Mary Poppins movie song.  In fact, it is.  The film is fantasy and all ends happily for the family that is being helped by Poppins, and all good folks go floating to the sky in balloons at the end, while the bleak of heart stay grounded, but the family and friends takes flight, and say to win out, and fly home to new beginnings.  Lin-Manuel Miranda and Angela Lansbury lead the cheery song, “Life’s a balloon, That tumbles or rises, Depending on what is inside!  Fill it with hope, And playful surprises, And oh, dreary ducks, Then you’re in for a ride!… Your heart will take flight, If you pick the right string, Then your heart will take wing, And there’s nowhere to go but up, up!”

Nice. Now you can see the film with a Christian view, as Poppins (Emily Blunt) is like an angel come down to help, the lamplighter “Jack” character (Miranda) as the Son present to guide us and the Banker Mr. Dawes (Dick Van Dyke) is like the Father of the Trinity come to provide for us, and the balloon lady (Lansbury) is like a Holy Spirit figure, giving you opportunity for new life and a lift.

There’s Nowhere to Go But Up.  It sounds more like the slogan of the last place Orioles right now. But I don’t think they are as buoyant or hopeful of it happening as of now.

It’s better to trust in the Promises of Christ Jesus, and the Victory of Jesus, and rely on His Grace.  Then, it’s upward you shall go.

The Ascension is a Victory Feast, of Christ, as One of us, and as The One for us as our Way to Glory.  Ascension Mass is quite the Catholic Holy Celebration, done as far back as apostolic First Church times (so says St. Augustine), and in the first century of freedom, the 4th century,  evidence is given from St. John Chrysostom, St. Egeria, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and the Church historian Socrates that Ascension Day was celebrated in the Church that far back.

As The Acts of the Apostles chapter 1 tells it, Jesus ascended into heaven, on the 40th day after the Resurrection, and this glorious Mystery attests to the reality of Jesus Christ returning to Heaven, with the promise of returning again in the future.

Along with Jesus’ Resurrection, His Ascension functioned as a clear proof to the claim that He was the Messiah. The Ascension is also the event whereby humanity was taken into heaven, positionally or spiritually, as Christ the Head came through the Gates of Heaven, and we who are connected or in communion with Him are following behind, like train cars behind a train locomotive who has pre-arrived at the destination, but will pull forward “all in” to get each train car into Glory. 

In another view, as in symbolic portrayal in iconography, the Lion conquering the dragon is an Ascension artwork, as the ascension is seen as the “final blow” against Satan’s power, thus loosening his hold on us, and giving us, instead, our connection and identity and union to God.

There’s Nowhere to Go But Up.  On the mount, they gaze in an upward direction to follow Christ’s ascent, with hope for each one of us one day to be lifted up.  A great related Bible verse to this is Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We need this upward goal and prize; we patiently await this upward call in Christ Jesus, knowing it is salvation for us, in rescue from human misery. There is so much of human misery, due to all the brokenness of humanity, and from our initial separation from God in our original sin (and now our ongoing sin) by it, and yet, Christ has a Day of Hope put into the picture of life to offer a complete change to the present suffering situation. That Day of Hope which is put into the equation of life is the Ascension of Jesus.  Now, we can look up for victory.

In that Ascension Feast Original, the community on the mount, as it says in Acts 1, looked upon Jesus, and, as mighty clouds came down and surrounded Him, He then ascended to the skies, all on His own power, as flying in a magnificent personal lift-off. 

The use of Faith is as that gift to the heart to make us light for flying, and to the hope exercised there is what we can hold on to, in the Holy Spirit, for where and how He wants to take us.  If we can live eternal minded, then we can be enabled to get started into life in that realm, as Jesus taught: “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-22) 

The Catholic Catechism summarizes three important theological aspects with which we can meditate on today of the Ascension.  Concisely:

A/Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of people (cf. Col 3:3).

B/Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever.

C/Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit (665-667). The Spirit works to conform us to the image of the Son (Romans 8:29).

Happy Feast Day, Church!  There’s Nowhere to Go But Up!  Believe it.  Give your assent to The Ascension!

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