When Jesus died on the cross they weep and mourn, but now, 40 days later, as the disciples witness the departing of Our Lord Jesus from the world, they act completely different! Did you notice their peculiar response?: “full of joy, they are continually in the temple praising God.” The Resurrection, those Easter days with the disciples, and the final moments we celebrate today somehow change their perspective. Perhaps now they have understood what Jesus had promised them in the Gospel of John: “I am going away, but I will come back to you.” Perhaps they know more fully what St. Matthew records: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
How can this be? Jesus is gone, but He is with us? The answer is to be found in something deeper, like what C.S. Lewis speaks of in the Chronicles of Narnia as “deep magic,” a part of reality that is harder to perceive but is greater that the world we see. I speak of the mystery of God Himself, which we are given in the image of the clouds today.
Let us listen to these words of Pope Benedict XVI: The cloud reminds us of the hour of the Transfiguration, in which the bright cloud falls on Jesus and the disciples. It reminds us of the hour of Mary's encounter with God's messenger, Gabriel, who announces to her the “overshadowing” with the power of the Most High. It reminds us of the holy tent of God in the Old Covenant, where the cloud signified the Lord's presence, the same Lord who, in the form of a cloud, led the people of Israel during their journey in the desert, and from which Moses received the Ten Commandments of the Covenant.
This is perhaps the most important meaning of the use of incense for Christians: it reminds us that God is near, God is truly here in a mysterious and somewhat blinding kind of way.
BXVI continues: This reference to the cloud is unambiguously theological language. It presents Jesus' departure, not as a journey to the starts, but as his entry into the mystery of God. It evokes an entirely different order of magnitude, a different dimension of being. … God is not in one space alongside other spaces. God is God – he is the premise and the ground of all the space there is, but he himself is not part of it...His presence is not spatial, but divine. In this way, Jesus' going away is in this sense a coming, a new form of closeness, of continuing presence. ...through his power over space, he is present and accessible to all – throughout history and in every place.
Jesus, whose entire mission and life was absolutely a gift for our salvation, has now taken our human nature to where it was created to be: united with God perfectly and forever. He never ceases to bring us to the Father and His Grace to us. One of the titles of the Pope is the Pontifex Maximus, or great bridge-builder, a pagan term used originally for the emperor, but speaking real truth about the role of the Pope, who stands in the person of Christ for us. Through the Ascension, The Lord Jesus is truly a bridge-builder between us and God.
CCC 662: Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, "entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf."543 There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he "always lives to make intercession" for "those who draw near to God through him".544 As "high priest of the good things to come" he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven.545
In our lives, wherever and whenever, Our Lord Jesus is with us, “always, to the end of time.” Especially here in the new Temple, the Church, where through the sacraments Christ reaches out, touches us, and blesses us. As the Apostles, so also should we joyfully live our lives, giving Praise to God for His marvelous achievement.