Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/2/2011 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Ascension does not mark the end of Jesus' relationship with the Church but the beginning of a new way of His relating to the world, in and through the Church

'Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. "If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God..." For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.' (St. Augustine)

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/2/2011 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Ascension of the Lord, Christian living, Resurrection, Feast, Catholic, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - Throughout most of the Catholic Church we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord this Thursday. In some places, the Feast is transferred to Sunday. Sadly, the Feast seems to have lost its meaning in the experience of too many Catholics and other Christians. Does the Ascension affect our lives in the here and now? Is it a commemoration of an event which occurred 2000 years ago? Or, could it be the key that helps unlock the very meaning of our lives and the plan of God for the entire created order?

The great western Bishop Augustine proclaimed these words on the Feast: "Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies."

When we went down into the Font of Baptism we were incorporated into Jesus Christ, made members of His Body, the Church. Therefore, as Augustine also wrote, "Where the Head is, there is the Body, where I am, there is my Church, we too are one; the Church is in me and I in her and we two are your Beloved and your Lover." In other words, we have ascended with the Lord! He is the Head and we are members of His Body. We cannot be separated. Augustine, reflecting the clear teaching of the early Church Fathers reminds us that the Head and the Body are the "One Christ." So, this is our Feast as well!

Pope St Leo the Great reflected on the joy the disciples experienced on that glorious day in these words: " (T)hat blessed company had a great and inexpressible cause for joy when it saw man's nature rising above the dignity of the whole heavenly creation, above the ranks of angels, above the exalted status of archangels. Now would there be any limit to its upward course until humanity was admitted to a seat at the right hand of the eternal father, to be enthroned at last in the glory of him to whose nature it was wedded in the Person of the Son."

Both of these Saints remind us why we should rejoice on this Feast of the Ascension. The Ascension does not mark the end of Jesus' relationship with the Church but the beginning of a new way of His relating to the world, in and through the Church. This way includes every one of us who bear His name. You see, we have also ascended with the Lord. When viewed with the eyes of Resurrection faith the Ascension is capable of transforming the way we view ourselves and live our daily lives. We are joined to Him and He to us! 

Jesus Christ bridged heaven and earth. Through His Incarnation, His Saving Life, Death and Resurrection, we have been set free from the consequences of sin, including the sting of death. (See, 1 Cor. 15:55) We are being created anew in Him daily as we freely cooperate with His grace. One of the Catechism's definitions of grace is "a participation in Divine Life".  (See, CCC #1997) It calls to mind the wonderful words of the Apostle Peter in his second letter. He reminded the early Christians that they were "participants in the Divine Nature". (2 Peter 1:4) So are we!

This Divine Life is mediated to us through the Word and the Sacraments - in the Church. We are incorporated into the Trinitarian communion of love, beginning now.  The Church is not some "thing", the Church is Some-One, the Risen Christ truly present in the world which was created through Him and is being re-created in Him. The Church is the new Israel sent into the world to continue His redemptive mission until He comes again. Then He will complete the work of Redemption. The Church, as the fathers were fond of saying, is the new world, and the world in the course of transfiguration. The Christian vocation is about learning to live this new relationship in Christ together, with the Father, through the Holy Spirit and for the sake of a world that still awaits its full redemption.

The Ascension of the Lord is not a final act in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Nor is it some kind of "intermission" to be concluded upon Christ's Bodily return - which will most certainly occur. Rather, it is about a new way of being, living in Christ in the here and now. The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Galatia: "No longer do I live but Christ lives in me and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God." (Galatians 2:19, 20) That is how we are invited to live, now.

Jesus said "Abide in me as I in you" (John 15:4). These are not mere sentiments of piety but meant to become reality, now. Christians can live differently - now - because we live "in" Jesus Christ. We can love differently - now. Christians can live differently - now - because we live "in" Jesus Christ. We can love differently now - because we love "in" Jesus Christ. We can "be" differently - now - because, as St. Paul wrote to the Colossians, "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God". (Coll. 3:3) Our lives are "hidden in Christ"- now.

On this Feast of the Ascension we should ask ourselves this question, "How are we doing?" The Feast presents us with an invitation to assess the relationship between our profession of faith and its manifestation in our daily lives. St. Paul encouraged the Christians in Corinth in his second letter to take such an examination: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless, of course, you fail the test. I hope you will discover that we have not failed"

Philosophers and Theologians speak of "ontology" as the essence of being, what makes something what it is. There is an "ontological" meaning to this Feast of the Ascension. We have ascended with Him and are called to live on earth the very realities of heaven, beginning now. This Feast also gives us insight into the Feast of Pentecost which we will soon celebrate. The "breath" of God, His Spirit, has been breathed into this Church - and thus into each one of us - in order to capacitate us to live this way and engage in His ongoing work of redemption.

That work will not be complete until the One who ascended returns and hands the re-created cosmos back to the Father. That is "the plan", the "mystery" now revealed in Jesus Christ. That is what I meant as I began this reflection when I asked whether the Ascension is the key that helps unlock the very meaning of our lives and the plan of God for the entire created order?

Let me conclude with these words of the great Apostle and mystic Paul who reflects on this plan: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.

"In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.... In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:3-14)

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Living Faith

BREAKING THE RULES or IS HE? Pope Francis washes women's feet and those of undetermined religion Watch

Image of This year, Francis arrived at a center for the disabled and elderly in Rome. Francis kneeled down, washed, dried and kissed the feet of a dozen people, some in wheelchairs, other with grossly swollen and disfigured feet.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has shown little regard for rules in regards to his papacy. The latest controversy now surrounds his washing the feet of 12 disabled and elderly people, some of who were women and non-Catholics. The pre-Easter ritual, Pope Francis is designed to show ... continue reading


'Priestly joy is a priceless treasure,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of The pope, presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If a priest wants to overcome moments of sadness, exhaustion and boredom, in addition to discovering his true identity, he must head for the exit sign, going outside himself to be with God and his people, Pope Francis said during the Chrism Mass at St. Peter's ... continue reading


Who's ready for the most historic canonization in modern history?

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Are you ready for the canonization of Pope John Paul II? Vatican officials are busy preparing for the historic canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. As they prepare, it's time for use to get ready as well. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - on April 27, a ... continue reading


Pope Francis encourages people to kiss crucifix and recite simple prayer Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is encouraging people this holy week to pick up a crucifix, kiss it and recite the simple prayer: "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord." He wishes to remind others that Christ's passion "isn't the happy ending of a beautiful fairytale, it isn't the ... continue reading


Pope Francis distributes Bibles, asks Catholics to perform acts of charity

Image of Bibles were handed out to all visitors regardless of their religious affiliation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has given out tens of thousands of Bibles to people that he hopes they will keep and use daily. The gifts were distributed in St. Peter's Square following Mass. The gifts came with one string attached however, Pope Francis asked all people to perform an ... continue reading


Pope Francis' Wild Ride - Pope takes happy kids for a spin through St. Peter's Square Watch

Image of Pope Francis kisses Livio Bastianelli and Davide Maria goodbye after their lucky ride.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis gave to kids the ride of a lifetime by inviting them for a spin in the Popemobile around St. Peter's Square. The gesture continues to cement Pope Francis as a man of the people who is most comfortable with the throngs of faithful who seek his wisdom and ... continue reading


Seminary is not for those who do not wish to 'get on with life,' Pope admonishes Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In addressing the Pontifical Leonine College of Anagni, the Pope did not mince words. Pope Francis was forthright in saying that the seminary is not a refuge for those who have "psychological problems" or lack the courage "to get on in life." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Pope Francis apologizes for abuse scandal, says Church deserves to pay Watch

Image of Pope Francis embraces a child in St. Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has made his strongest statement yet about the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis made clear that victims of abuse deserved an apology as well as compensation for what they have suffered.  He reaffirmed that the Church will be ... continue reading


Pope Francis makes special plea, but is asking us - Are you listening? Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis continues to call for aid to the poor as the holiday season ends. The Holy Father has set a goal to eradicate global hunger by distributing food more equitably around the world and he has called on all faithful Catholics to help. It's a call that can't be ... continue reading


'The Devil is here, even in the 21st century,' Pope Francis warns Watch

Image of Life is a constant battle against evil due to the presence of the devil, Pope Francis said, admitting that even he

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The devil is very much alive in the 21st Century, Pope Francis warns, and he often takes the form of gossip. The pope confessed that he himself was tempted to gossip, and the faithful need to stay on their toes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Speaking in the ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 52:13--53:12
13 Look, my servant will prosper, will grow great, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
2 turn your ear to me, make haste. Be for me a ... Read More

Gospel, John 18:1--19:42
1 After he had said all this, Jesus left with his ... Read More

Reading 2, Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
14 Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2014 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter