We celebrate the Ascension as a feast, yet it commemorates the departure of Jesus from his disciples and from this world. The Lord ascends to heaven and the Eastern liturgy narrates the astonishment of the angels in seeing a man who in his flesh rises to be seated at the right hand of the Father. Even so, while Christ is at the point of ascending to heaven, the disciples, who had seen him risen, still do not seem to understand what is happening. He is about to bring his Kingdom to fulfilment and they are still caught up in their own ideas. They ask him if he is going to restore the kingdom to Israel (cf. Acts 1:6). Yet, when Christ leaves them, instead of being sad, they return to Jerusalem “with great joy”, as Luke tells us (cf. 24:52). It would be odd if something had not occurred. Indeed, Jesus had already promised them the power of the Holy Spirit, who was to descend upon them at Pentecost. This is the miracle that changes everything. They become more confident when they entrust everything to the Lord. They are filled with joy. Moreover, that joy is the fullness of consolation, the fullness of the presence of the Lord.
Pope Franics, May 2020