The discussion around when to celebrate the Ascension got me thinking about the biblical meaning of the number 40.
I had never really paid that much attention to it, but in the Bible, the number 40 is quite significant and occurs around many important matters: the rain fell on Noah 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, Moses stayed on the mountain with God for 40 days, Elijah fled for his life for 40 days and nights until he came to Mt Horeb, God's mountain, and of course Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert.
I found a good article on this here.
To quote part of it:
"Forty denotes a period of preparation for some special action of the Lord; it is a time of grace.After the flood in Genesis, a new creation begins. After Moses converses with God, the covenant is renewed. After Israel's wandering in the wilderness, they will enter into the Promised Land. After Elijah's journey, God strengthens him to resume his prophetic ministry. After Jesus' temptation, he begins his public ministry; after the Ascension, we enter the age of the Church. At the end of the season of Lent, we celebrate Holy Week and the great feast of Easter."
The 40 days of the Easter season are a time of grace to prepare us for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and the new birth of the Church.
Veni Sancte Spiritus