And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
What are we to make of the Ascension? To some it may seem little more than a neat, miraculous way for Jesus to bid goodbye to His disciples. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, however, in his book Jesus of Nazareth, helps us to understand this mystery in a deeper way. In particular, he highlights the importance of a detail we might otherwise regard as insignificant: the presence of the cloud. Benedict calls this “unambiguously theological language” and recalls the instances throughout Scripture when the presence of a cloud marks some great event: the Exodus from Egypt (when Israel was led by a pillar of cloud through the desert), the Tent of Meeting (where Moses often conversed with the Most High, who was concealed in a cloud that filled the dwelling), and the Transfiguration (when the Father’s voice was heard coming from a cloud).