The major reason why we always find farewells unpleasant is that we feel our life is not going to be the same without that person. This is particularly true when the departure was of a person who has contributed to enriching our lives. As V. Frank would say, the fundamental drama of the human being is not to live without pleasure but to do it without sense. The sense of our lives is most commonly acknowledged in the constant interaction with the people around us that in a certain manner constitutes the soul and history of our existence. If we try to explain our lives without mentioning anyone we would be declaring at once our stupidity.
It is, then, understandable why the disciples were sad when Jesus departed from their side to go to an unknowable reality. To say farewell to such a tremendous person is, from the human point of view, a complete catastrophe but it is even more so if they realise that are going to be separated from the very God of Israel. What will be then the sense of their lives? Obviously someone could argue that even if an important person has passed by, her legacy will remain and the remembrance alone would be sufficient to provide sense for the rest. However I think that nobody can deny that a living and nearby influence is qualitatively stronger than a dead and far off one. The sense of our lives is what makes us strive for perfection in our nature, is the goal that will transcend the contingency of our lives in this lacrimarum valle, and this sense is only “maximum” when the hoped for outcome is maximum as well.
Jesus departs from them but it would be quite inappropriate for such a God as Jesus has preached, to live them merely through the set of practices and rules that they must repeat unceasingly as a remembrance of Him. Therefore He promises to them his own Spirit, the living presence of Almighty God who will be with them until the end of the times. The sense that Jesus provides is eternal and transcendent to this mortal life, it is an eternal raison d’être for those who recognised Him as the very Word of God.
The gift of our human life, which God has granted us in the moment of our creation, is perfected in the process of the Incarnation-Passion-Death-Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus of Nazareth, a process that divinises humanity, making it the dwelling place of divinity and granting to every single human being the sense of being bearers of this divine sign. Jesus Christ ascends gloriously into heaven showing us the road to our final goal, the sense of our lives.