Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them.”
Boston’s Storrow Drive has a sign that reads “Reverse Curve” to alert drivers to an unexpected twist in the road. At some point in 2004 an ardent fan changed it to “reverse the curse,” referring to the superstition that Babe Ruth had cursed the Red Sox when they sold him to the Yankees. But when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 after a drought of 86 years, jubilant fans cheered that the “curse” had been broken.
We can laugh at such superstitious curses. The Bible, however, speaks of a more sinister curse, the curse of sin. That curse fell on the world when our first parents turned away from God and ushered in the long reign of sin and death. But today’s feast of the Ascension gives us cause to celebrate, for Jesus has fully conquered sin. He has truly “reversed the curse” that fell on the world as a result of Adam’s sin. The Ascension is the last stage of the work that Jesus came on earth to do. Through his passion and death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus conquered sin and redeemed the world. He returned to the Father, mission accomplished. The Gospel emphasizes this by noting how Jesus raised his hands in blessing: “As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.”
The blessing of Jesus, his final gift to us, touches us whenever we need it. He pours into us the grace we need to live as his disciples. We have not yet reached the finish line, so we still struggle with sin and face all kinds of difficulties. But Jesus stays with us through it all. We are not cursed, we are blessed, and for that we rejoice. Our rejoicing today is not that of jubilant sports fans savoring a fleeting moment of victory, but the rejoicing of those who know that in Jesus we have won the only victory that really matters.