Yes, it’s quite true that we live in Christ now, that the Mass is a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb, and that the priest at Mass is in persona Christi, presenting Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice to the Father.
But what I left out was why Acts 1:9 said,
“And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight.”
Remember, folks, that all throughout the OT and NT, we read about God showing His presence by the “pillar of cloud” (sometimes translated “smoke”) by day that was a pillar of fire by night. The shekhinah glory cloud continued to show up in the Tabernacle and in the Temple, and it was sometimes pictured in the OT as also veiling God’s Throne in Heaven, or perhaps to show that even OT prophets couldn’t yet see everything God had to reveal:
Psalm 17:12/18:11 - (and many others with similar comments about God and clouds)
“And he made darkness his covert, his pavilion round about him; dark waters in the clouds of the air.”
Psalm 103:3/104:3 -
“He makes the clouds His chariot. He walks on the wings of the wind.”
Nahum 1:3 –
“Clouds are the dust of His feet.”
Ezekiel 1:4 -
“And I saw. And behold! A whirlwind came out of the north, and a great cloud, and a fire enfolding it, and brightness was about it.”
And so, in the OT, we also see people talking about God’s coming and the Day of the Lord, and associating it with a cloud.
Isaiah 19:1 -
“Behold! The Lord will ascend upon a swift cloud, and will enter into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in its midst.”
But there is also a very strong hint that clouds go with the Davidic Messiah and king, in Daniel 7: 13-14 –
"… And lo, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of Days; and they presented him before him, and He gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom.
“And all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him. His power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed.”
This continues in the Gospel. At the Baptism of the Lord,
and at the Transfiguration: (Matthew 17:5, cf. Mark 9:6, Luke 9:35)
“And as he was yet speaking, behold! A bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.””
But Jesus is not just some guy who is associated with God. He is God. Jesus told His disciples that “in those days” –
Matthew 24:30 (also cf. Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27) –
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. And then shall all tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty.”
Matthew 26:63-65 (cf. Mark 14:62-64) –
"And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us if you be the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus says to him, “You have said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
“Then the high priest rent his garments, saying, “He has blasphemed; what further need have we of witnesses?””
Revelation 1:7 –
“Behold! He comes with the clouds. And every eye shall see Him, and those also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth shall bewail themselves because of Him.”
That is why the Second Coming and the end of time are associated with us being taken up to meet Jesus “in the clouds,” (1 Thes. 4:16); and why the two witnesses in Revelation “went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them” (Rev. 11:12) after their death and resurrection; and for that matter, it’s why John said in Rev. 14:14, “And I saw. And behold! A white cloud; and sitting upon the cloud, one like the Son of man.”
So no, the Ascension is not about drama. It is a visual aid, done according to the Scriptures and prophecy. Jesus was showing us that He really was God as well as man, and that He was the Messiah, and that He would come again.
And yes, it would be helpful if priests would preach more about this, but we are also expected to take an interest in the Bible ourselves. Older Catholic and Protestant books tend to talk more about the Ascension from this sort of Biblical perspective. I’m not sure why modern books often shy away from it, but I like finding out these interconnections between OT and NT that would have been obvious to an early Christian.