Some Church congregations celebrate this event as Ascension Day. One of the schools in which I worked always had a half-day holiday to mark the occasion. Jesus, the newly risen God/Man, returned to his heavenly Father to represent us in our struggles on earth. This reading from the Letter to the Hebrews encourages us to pray, knowing that Jesus understands our weaknesses as he faced the same trials and temptations as we do. ‘ we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.’
As long as Jesus was around with them the disciples were able to talk with him, so when he ascended back to Heaven they must have felt the loss of his actual presence quite keenly. With whom could they share the problems they faced? Who would be there alongside them to guide and encourage them when things got tough?
Very many of us – me included – need that grace and help to be able to speak out about our faith in following Jesus. John records a conversation (John 14) about the coming of the Spirit – an Advocate, a friend standing alongside ‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.’
Now Jesus is with the Father, it is the Holy Spirit alongside and within us who is the Friend encouraging our faltering efforts to speak about our faith.