The Ascension contains the great mystery of why Jesus must visibly leave his disciples, thus creating a physical void in their midst. What they most greatly love—their risen Master— can no longer be seen, heard, or touched. Before departing “to heaven” (the place from which power will come), he blesses them with the hands that show the wounds of the cross. As blood had poured out of them forty days before, now light and blessing pour from them as Jesus’ final, visible deed on this earth. This event marks a major turning point in the story of Jesus’ relationship with mankind, because this blessing is as if Jesus were saying to them: “I leave for heaven so that your own hands may now become my hands, your deeds my deeds, your heart my heart.” How else can we explain their great joy in returning to Jerusalem?
The promise of the Holy Spirit and the blessing by Jesus’ hands have communicated the certainty to them that, even in leaving them visibly, he is not abandoning them but rather making room interiorly for them to be what they have seen him to be—by now having the same Father as he and the same Spirit animating their lives. They must now themselves become what they have learned to admire and love
In other words, Jesus now ceases to be but one person in physical body among many in the world so that the Church corporately and in every individual member can become the presence of his Body on earth. Jesus disappears as single individual in order to fill the whole world with his presence. From now on, those who want to see Jesus, the Messiah, will have to look to the Church and her members —for better or for worse.