The Bear has a confession to make.
The Ascension is a troubling feast for him.
Many miraculous occurrences trouble him not in the slightest, but the image of Jesus floating skyward like a balloon whose string has slipped the grasp of a child is a little hard to take. Why he should cavil about the Ascension when he was just celebrating without the shadow of a doubt a virgin mother's visit to a relative is hard to explain.
Perhaps it is the modern mind, which knows that above us is, in John Lennon's words, only sky, then a cold infinity of space lightly salted with island universes of galaxies.
Yet this explanation fails. The men of Galilee knew just as well as we do that virgins don't give birth, the dead don't rise, and men don't float up into the sky. Indeed, they were so dumbstruck that angels were dispatched to ask them why they were looking up into the sky, or they would be there to this day.
The simple truth is that we believe in the Ascension because it is what happened. It is too easy and naïve to imagine, and it makes us feel a little silly. But when we think about it, it is the only possible end of Jesus Christ's raid.
If he had just disappeared one night, there would have been an ellipsis at the end of his story, not an exclamation mark.
If he had disappeared quietly, the apostles and disciples would never have known when he might be showing up for dinner with broiled fish.
If he had wandered into the desert, people would have expected him to wander back onto the world's stage.
If the earth had opened and swallowed him, well, that would hardly do, would it?
If he had combusted in a glory of fire -- no, that is just disturbingly close to spontaneous human combustion.
No, ascending into the sky is the only exit possible.
- he takes his body with him, important for sound Christology
- his mission comes to a decisive end
- we are shown how he will come again
- potential rumors of his return are stifled
- he goes to where he came: Heaven
Some imagery is best not dwelt on. The floating Jesus is a small stumbling block, although the Bear knows it should not be. That is why the Bear likes the picture of the two angels, no less miraculous, after all. It satisfies his imagination and lets his mind realize the truth of the Ascension.