There is an interaction between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, recounted in John’s Gospel, teaching that Christ’s ascension is about more than just His going up to Heaven. In this, His ascension is like all of His actions: they are not just for Him but also for us.
As Christ ascends, we are called to ascend in at least two ways:
The event with Mary Magdalene takes place early in the morning on the day of His resurrection. Mary recognizes the Lord and runs to embrace Him:
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to Him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). “Do not cling to Me,” Jesus said, “for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and tell My brothers, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what He had said to her (Jn 20:16-18).
Mary’s first reaction is to call Jesus by His earthly title, Rabboni. He is that, but much more. At one point, Jesus bids her to look at Him again. She is clinging to Him, not just to His Body but to her earthly notions of Him as well. To her, He is Jesus, teacher, the hoped-for Messiah. Jesus has her step back and take another look:
Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’
Mary steps back and does see something more. When she returns to the brethren she says, “I have seen the Lord!”
This is the full proclamation of the resurrection. Yes, a corpse has come back to life, but it is more than that. Jesus’ humanity is gloriously transformed and He is now seen as “the Lord.” He has always been, but except at His transfiguration, this has not been seen by any of the disciples.
This is our first understanding of ascension as it applies to us. The Lord is ascending in the sight of the apostles in the sense that they are seeing more of who He really is. He is exalted in their sight. He is ascending in their minds, hearts, and understanding.
Read more at Archdiocese of Washington.