Solemnity of Ascension

While blessing them, He was carried up to Heaven.

Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today’s celebration of the Feast the “Ascension of the Lord” Jesus.

While reflecting on this Feast that the Holy Catholic Church has found worthy of including in the Liturgical Calendar, I asked myself, “What does the Ascension of Jesus mean to us?” After spiritual reflections, I was able to perceive some important factors that are associated with the Ascension of the Lord Jesus.

1. First of all, the visible departure of the Lord concluded the Risen Jesus’ sojourn on earth. For 40 days after His Resurrection, Jesus had been appearing to many of His followers and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. [Acts 1:3] The days of His apparitions had come to an end.

If we are to take Chapter 24 of the Gospel of Luke or Chapter 20 of the Gospel of John as they stand, we would get the impression that all three, the Resurrection, the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit happened on the same day. But this is not so. As I have just mentioned, there was “40 days” [Acts 1:3] between the day of the Resurrection and the day of the Ascension. This knowledge is made known to us by St. Luke who also wrote “The Acts of the Apostles.”

2. Secondly, I have come to perceive that the Ascension of Jesus completes our understanding of the awesomeness of the glorious Resurrection. Because the Lord Jesus was raised to Heaven after His glorious Resurrection, it is made known to us that our blessed hope of eternal life does not consist of dwelling in this world, but rather in Heaven.

3. Thirdly, the Ascension of the Lord affirms that Jesus was the Messiah. As the Gospel of Luke tells us, “He was carried up into Heaven.” [Lk. 24:51] The questions to ask here are, “Who carried Him?” and “Why did they carry Him?” It was the angels who carried Jesus to Heaven because they were created to “adore Him” [Heb. 1:6] and serve Him.

In concluding the writing of his Gospel, St. Luke emphasized that the proclaiming of repentance and the forgiveness of sins was to be proclaimed in His Name. [Lk. 24:47] This emphasis, in “His Name,” shifts the faith of the believers from Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, to the divinity of Jesus. “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily.” [Col. 1:19, 2:9]

4. Next, the Ascension of the Lord Jesus opened the door for the beginning of the Divine ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for the promise of the Heavenly Father. [Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:4]

5. Fifth, during the Gospel Reading, we heard that Jesus raised His hands and blessed His disciples. [Lk. 24:50] This action echoes a similar action that is found in the Book of Sirach in the Old Testament.

“The leader of his brothers and the pride of his people was the high priest, Simon son of Onias…” [Sir. 50:1] “Then Simon came down and raised his hands over the whole congregation of Israelites to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips, and to glory in his name.” [Sir. 50:20]

From this passage, we come to perceive that the blessing of Jesus was not just an ordinary blessing. It was a blessing from the True High Priest, He who is a priest forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek. [Heb. 5:6, 7:17, 7:21]

6. Sixth, from the moment of the Ascension, the living hope of all Christians has been for the Second Coming of Christ, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. At the moment of the Ascension of the Lord, the countdown began. “About that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” [Mt. 24:36] “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” [Mt. 24:44]

7. Seventh, once the Lord Jesus had ascended into Heaven, He sat at the right hand of God. [Mk. 16:19; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 8:1, 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22; Acts 2:33, 7:56-7] Since then, He has been the Mediator between God and humankind. [1 Tim. 2:5] “Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree He is the Mediator of a better Covenant, which has been enacted through better promises.” [Heb. 8:6]

8. Eight, from the moment of the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, His glorious reign began as the King of kings. Through the Resurrection of Jesus, death was conquered. “The great dragon was thrown down (out of Heaven), that ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” [Rev. 12:9]

Following the glorious moment of the Ascension of Jesus, the souls that dwelled in Limbo were finally released “Christ was the first fruits of those who had died.” [1 Cor. 15:20]

In theological usage the name “Limbo” has two meanings. The first is the temporary place or state of the souls of the just who, although purified from sin, were excluded from the beatific vision until Christ’s triumphant ascension into Heaven (the “limbus patrum”).

According to apocryphal Jewish literature that refers to the abode of the departed just, the following condition of the souls is generally agreed upon:

– that their condition is one of happiness,
– that it is temporary, and
– that it is to be replaced by a condition of final and permanent bliss when the Messianic Kingdom is established.

9. Ninth, while Jesus has ascended into Heaven, His Divine Presence continues to be with us where He is adored daily in the Sacred Tabernacles of the Catholic Churches.

The last verse from today’s Gospel Reading states, “And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the Temple blessing God.” [Lk. 24:53] What is stressed here is that the believers were “continually” in the Temple and their “great joy.”

From this passage, it can be perceived that the physical Church mirrors the invisible Kingdom of God. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church mirrors the new Jerusalem and the new Temple. The Divine Presence of Jesus in the Sacred Tabernacles mirrors His Divine Presence among the saints and the angels in the Kingdom of God.

Why is there great joy? Because the celebration of the Holy Mass and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist mirror the Heavenly Feast in which Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints and all the angels are partaking. To receive Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is to “worship God in spirit and truth.” [Jn. 4:24]

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the aforementioned raises the importance of the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord above the fact that the Lord Jesus was carried up to Heaven by the angels. While the Resurrection was the turning point in history regarding salvation, the Ascension was the turning point in history regarding the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

Following the glorious Ascension of the Lord, the endless righteous souls who had died from the days of Adam to the days of Jesus, all were finally released from their prison in Limbo. Finally, they could enjoy the eternal Presence of Christ the King. For these souls, the Resurrection of Jesus prepared the way for their freedom from a dwelling where they did not enjoy the beatific vision of Christ.

These are reasons to celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. There may be more than those that I have mentioned. But these are sufficient for us to rejoice, not only for ourselves, but for the countless souls of the days of the Old Testament who finally entered the Kingdom of God.

Source: Catholic Doors Ministry

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