Today we rejoice because Jesus has taken his wounded body, our wounded body, with him to Paradise. He has taken all of it, all that we are, all that we are right now- in its beauty and its sinful shoddiness, our materiality, our very flesh, all our stuff, into heaven with him forever. Thus even all we see and smell and touch and use all day long is somehow revealed as sacred. This is what the Ascension celebrates. It is the great feast of intersection, interconnectedness. From the beginning Jesus has embodied this joining of heaven and earth in his very self; this is why he would often speak of his body as Temple. It’s how he understood himself- as the ultimate meeting of place of God with his people. He knew it all along. And now what began with his quiet descent into Mary’s womb has comes to its perfect fulfillment.
What is more, the Ascension of Jesus in his humanity is a sign of things to come for all of us and for all creation, a great sign of hope, for it reveals the destiny God intends for each of us. Our homeland as human beings is heaven. And somehow we’re already there in Christ. Flesh has been redeemed and glorified, and so in Christ Jesus matter will last forever and be glorified forever.* Amazingly our flesh is very precious to God. This wounded, embarrassed body that we are individually, corporately- Jesus has taken with him into Paradise forever. The Ascension is the festival of the future of our flesh.
*See homily of Bishop Utener for the Ascension.