Friends, today’s Gospel gives us Mark’s very laconic account of the Ascension: “Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.” We should think of it as Jesus’ going to his heavenly place in order to reign over the earth. 

Now, don’t literalize this language—there aren’t chairs in heaven—but take it very seriously indeed. What Mark is suggesting is that Jesus is now reigning; he’s in the attitude of a king on his throne. This means that he is directing the things of earth from his place in heaven. Again, don’t think of this spatially, as though heaven were a long way away. Think of heaven as a dimension that overlaps with earth, that impinges on earth. 

And this is why the Ascension forces us to come to grips with a key question: Whom do we finally obey? Whom do we finally serve? Who, finally, is the king of our life? We legitimately obey all sorts of figures—political, cultural, artistic, etc.—but there is always an ultimate king, someone (or something) from which we take our definitive marching orders.

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