Refocusing on the Ascension of Jesus


This article was originally published for Catholic World Report on May 15, 2021.

Sure mysteries within the lifetime of the Church and sure beliefs and practices can turn into obscure over time, for quite a lot of causes. That is evident, I feel, within the commemoration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. One vital issue behind this obscuring of the Ascension is how most dioceses in the US have transferred this feast day from its conventional place on Thursday—forty days after Easter—to the next. It’s a transfer that undercuts Scripture and Custom. Secondly, the feast’s full significance can usually be blurred or missed as a result of it falls throughout the finish of the Easter season and the upcoming feast of Pentecost.

A 3rd, much less apparent but additionally vital, issue that may obscure the Ascension is definite fashionable biblical scholarship. Scripture students reminiscent of Rudolph Bultmann have said:

What that means …can we connect to such phrases within the creed as ‘descended into hell’ or ‘ascended into heaven’? We not imagine within the three-storied universe that the creeds take without any consideration…nobody who’s sufficiently old to assume for himself can actually take critically the actual fact that there’s a God who lives in an area heaven for there isn’t a longer any heaven within the conventional sense of the phrase. The identical applies to hell within the sense of a legendary underworld that exists beneath our toes.i

Such a theological tendency, articulated in Bultmann, can lead in each the educational and standard realms to an undercutting of the complete significance of what Jesus does for us within the paschal thriller. Denying the bodily and historic nature of the Ascension can feed ideologies that strip Christianity of her divine factor. This denial dangers dividing the social instructing of the Church from her mission to evangelize and save souls. Such a divide then reduces her mission to secular activism and atheistic humanism, as seen in numerous neo-Marxist actions and neighborhood organizing actions that use teams of individuals as a political pressure for change with out authentically prepared their total good.

To counter the affect of such a viewpoint, different theologians reminiscent of Joseph Ratzinger, encourage us to take a look at the actions of Jesus within the Scriptures and to extra deeply ponder their that means to be able to higher perceive the importance of the Ascension.

Within the account from the primary studying of the Feast of the Ascension, we hear the next:

After they had gathered collectively, they requested [Jesus], “Lord, are you at the moment going to revive the dominion to Israel?” He answered them, “It’s not so that you can know the occasions or seasons that the Father has established by his personal authority. However you’ll obtain energy when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all through Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had mentioned this, as they had been wanting on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. Whereas they had been wanting intently on the sky as he was going, all of a sudden two males wearing white clothes stood beside them. They mentioned, “Males of Galilee, why are you standing there wanting on the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the identical manner as you’ve seen him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:6-11)

We see that the actions of Jesus at his ascension into heaven culminate with “the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, the place he’s seated from that point ahead at God’s proper hand.”ii Pope Benedict XVI describes how the cloud is a component that presents Jesus’ departure “not as a journey to the celebrities, however as his entry into the thriller of God. It evokes a wholly totally different order of magnitude, a special dimension of being.”iii

Saint Thomas Aquinas additionally notes that though Christ ascends by the ability of His personal individual into Heaven, “he was raised up and brought into heaven by the Father, because the Father’s energy is similar because the Son’s.”iv This reveals the divine intimacy that Christ as God the Son has with God the Father in addition to his obedience to the Father in all issues as He already confirmed in His ardour.

The Ascension of Jesus reveals that whereas our existence essentially includes this current world, it most actually doesn’t finish with this current world. The last word goal of every human individual is divine union with God who’s Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything of the paschal thriller of Jesus culminating together with his ascension into heaven makes this doable. This thriller of our salvation and sanctification in Jesus Christ is on the coronary heart of the life, mission, and id of the Church.

The Catechism reminds us of this fact the place it states:

Left to its personal pure powers humanity doesn’t have entry to the “Father’s home”, to God’s life and happiness. Solely Christ can open to man such entry that we, his members, may need confidence that we too shall go the place he, our Head and our Supply, has preceded us.v

In his ardour and loss of life on the Cross on Good Friday, Jesus paid the debt that we owed to God the Father for our sins. In his Resurrection from the useless on the tomb on Easter Sunday, Jesus elevated and restored our human nature in physique and soul from the consequences of sin and loss of life. The Resurrection then brings each side of our nature as human individuals again into concord with grace—supernatural life—on this pure life. The Ascension of Jesus brings our existence as human individuals into the depths what grace is: intimate divine union with the Holy Trinity in Heaven within the lifetime of the world to return.

The Catechism additional explains the importance of Jesus lifting as much as heaven for us as related to the remainder of his ardour:

The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and declares his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and certainly begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the brand new and everlasting Covenant, “entered, not right into a sanctuary made by human palms. . . however into heaven itself, now to look within the presence of God on our behalf.” There Christ completely workout routines his priesthood, for he “at all times lives to make intercession” for “those that draw close to to God by means of him”vi.

Simply as seeing the world round us clearly is crucial, so is seeing how each side of the Paschal Thriller is redemptive for us in distinctive and complementary methods. This interlinking of the weather of the paschal thriller is crucial to take care of, simply as is its distinctive elements. By supporting this unity of religion upon the mysteries of the lifetime of Jesus, significantly within the paschal thriller, we’re aided in conserving our eyes on Jesus within the earthly journey of life in order that we aren’t distracted by earthly initiatives, passing fads, or fleeting temporal achieve.

The Ascension of Jesus reveals each the union of heaven and earth within the Incarnate individual of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It additionally helps us develop a correct understanding of our personal current second in historical past. Too usually, skepticism and atheistic traits present in unbridled secularism can tempt us to enter a sure self-referentiality, whereby we view life divorced from the thriller of religion and look at our age as superior to that which got here earlier than it. This mindset can have an effect on each secular life and the lifetime of the Church to the purpose the place we neglect who we’re within the eyes of God and our final duties to Him and our fellow man.

This self-referentiality that divorces town of man from town of God is on the coronary heart of the cynical skepticism and outright atheism that the Church has struggled in opposition to for many of the twentieth century and in our present day in so many kinds. How providential that this 12 months, the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus falls on the one-hundred-and-fourth anniversary of the beginning of the apparitions of Our Girl in Fatima, Portugal in addition to the fortieth anniversary of the tried assassination of Pope Saint John Paul II in Saint Peter’s Sq.. Each Our Girl of Fatima and Saint John Paul II knew effectively the injury such a disposition of atheistic communism can do to humanity in each pure destruction and supernatural darkness.

Could the wonderful ascension of Jesus into heaven in addition to Our Girl of Fatima and Saint John Paul II assist us to maintain our eyes rightly mounted on the thriller of religion on this world in order that we could soar to the heights and depths of its mysteries within the life that heaven imparts to us.


i Rudolph Bultmann, Kerygma and Delusion: A Theological Debate, ed. H.W. Bartsch, trans. R Fuller (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1961), 4; Joseph Ratzinger, Dogma and Preaching: Making use of Christian Doctrine to On a regular basis Life (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2011), 311; Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1990), 237-239; Douglas Farrow, Ascension and Ecclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B.Eerdmans Publishing Firm, 1999), 18, footnote 15.

ii CCC 659

iii Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem To the Resurrection, (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2011) 282.

iv Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, IIIa, q. 57, a 3. Advert I; Cf. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Christ the Savior: A Commentary of the Third A part of Saint Thomas’ Theologica Summa, (Saint Louis: MO: B. Herder Ebook Co., 1950) 671.

v CCC 661.

vi Ibid, 662

Picture credit score: Ascension by Rembrandt, Wikimedia Commons

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