This Sunday we celebrate Ascension Sunday!  This is a time when many Christians celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven. But what does Jesus’ ascension into heaven mean for us?  Henri Nouwen offers a hopeful reflection on Jesus as the prodigal Son, who not only went to the far country to rescue all of us, but also includes us in his glorious ascension and homecoming to God the Father.  Here’s what he says (albeit abbreviated):

“Once I look at the story of the prodigal son with the eyes of faith, the “return” of the prodigal becomes the return of the Son of God who has drawn all people into himself and brings them home to his heavenly Father.

Frere Pierre Marie, the founder of the Fraternity of Jerusalem, a community of monks living in the city, reflects on Jesus as the prodigal Son in a very poetic and biblical way. He writes:

He, who is born not from human stock, or human desire or human will, but from God himself, one day took to himself everything that was under his footstool and he left with his inheritance, his title of Son, and the whole ransom price. He left for a far country . . . After having given away everything in a life of bounty, his worth, his peace, his light, his truth, his life . . . He was laid to rest in the dust and the shadow of death.  And there, on the third day, he rose up from the depths of hell to where he had descended, burdened with the crimes of us all, he bore our sins, our sorrows he carried. Standing straight, he cried out: “Yes, I am ascending to my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God.” And he reascended to heaven. Then in the silence, looking at his Son and all his children, since his Son had become all in all, the Father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet; let us eat and celebrate! Because my children who, as you know, were dead have returned to life; they were lost and have been found again! My prodigal Son has brought them all back.” They all began to have a feast dressed in their long robes, washed white in the blood of the Lamb.

– From Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, pg. 56

Friends, Jesus is the true prodigal who gave up everything so that we could become like him and share in his ascension to his Father’s house. May you know that the Father sets a feast for you this Ascension day!

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