Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blog # 150 ... Ascended into Heaven...

Blog # 150 …Ascended into Heaven… Within the past few weeks I have had the honor to Baptize a baby girl two months of age, respond to the news of the death of a friend, celebrate the fifty seventh anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, the final weeks of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, and now the Ascension of Our Lord. One of the things I like about our Catholic theology is the fact it all “hangs together”; it is all connected in its twofold claim to possess the truth available to us through reason and revelation. By the very nature of truth truth will not contradict itself. Truth, Faith, and authentic human experience, reason, and common sense are not enemies but friends. There is room for mystery in either category of truth because of the limitations of our human nature and the richness and depth of the truths available to us by way of revelation. Apparent contradictions between what we have perceived as truth either by reason or revelation may come, but this is really only evidence we need further study, more experience, and in some cases a willingness to accept the fact we are not God and some truth lies beyond our limited comprehension. All of creation and therefore all created truth is connected and unified in the will of the single Creator of all that exists. There is nothing in all of creation that is unaccounted for. Sent by the Father for the salvation of,all people,from the first of us on the list to the last,all the historical Jesus said and did and thought was done in obedience to the Father and can be identified as contributing to our salvation. From the Cross in His final moments Jesus could well say of the mission on earth the Father had given Him; “It is finished.” However, and this is the part that impressed me very much this year, the identity of the Word in Jesus, now glorified by His victory over sin and death by His infinite divine love and His total unconditional obedient human love on the Cross lives on. The limited boundaries placed upon the human love of the historical Jesus by the will of the Father that He be like us in all but sin, are now removed. Yet the need for the message and grace of His mission on earth continues in every sin that is being committed today and tomorrow, in every prayer that is offered in faith, in every Eucharistic celebration and every Sacrament that is conferred. I do believe the Resurrected Jesus did ascend into Heaven as the story of it goes in the Gospel passage. However I wonder if this experience of Jesus was not similar to His forty days upon earth after the Resurrection, identified as a gift from the Father that we could more easily believe it was a real experience of Jesus, and an opportunity for us to grasp more clearly the reality of the Resurrected Jesus’ freedom from the constraints of our human experience. My bottom line invites me to reflect further upon the promise of Jesus not to leave us orphans and to be with us always until the end of time. I see enough already to fulfill that promise in the identity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Jesus and in the holiness Jesus inspires in so many of those who believe and in the Sacrifice of the Mass and the administration of the Sacraments: I,I,I. There is a real presence of Jesus in all of these experiences. We are not left as orphans. Jesus is with us always. But in the light of the eternal personal identity of Jesus and the Word, after the Ascension we may be able to see and respond to one more way God is present to us and the promises of Jesus are fulfilled. It might help in understanding what I am trying to say to realize we cannot even imagine what God has prepared for those who love Him. We tend to imagine it anyway, and think and speak of “going to Heaven” and Jesus “sitting at the right hand of God” in the same way we might speak of “going to New Jersey” or “sitting in the first seat in a bus”. It might be better not to imagine Heaven as a place but a state of being and “God’s right hand” as a special honor This has been long and perhaps complicated. If you can have patience with me, tomorrow I'll try to conclude it with some practical applications I originally intended to present in a blog on the Feast of the Ascension.

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