Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blog 152 After the Ascension ...

Blog 152 After the Ascension... Both the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed express our faith in the Ascension of Our Lord in these words: "He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father". Both Creeds then add He will come again to judge the living and the dead. The references to judgment would almost seem to imply that now in Heaven Jesus is waiting as it were for Judgment Day for His next assignment in the Father's will. A reference to Jesus "seated at the right hand of the Father' is the use of a figure of speech to indicate the supreme honor the Resurrected Jesus enjoys in the Father's presence rather than describe a physical reality as in our experience on earth would be of a 'seat and a 'right hand'. In the light of what I have been trying to emphasize in recent blogs with regard to our infallible faith in the identity of the Word of God, (the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) and Jesus the son of Mary as one person, and several other references in Scripture and our Catholic theology, the glorified Jesus 'comes' many times in the life of Catholic people. Here at the very beginning it is important to point out that God does not come and go as we use these terms for anyone other than God and consequently whenever they are used in reference to God they are used analogously. A second point to remember is that since God does come so regularly in the lives of faithful Catholics we may at times be in danger of taking His coming for granted rather than being awe struck by it. The Resurrected Jesus, now free of the limitation of the flesh assumed in the Incarnation, and identified with the Word of God as one person, is present wherever and whenever God is present,or,in other words, always and everywhere. He could justifiably then promise His disciples that He would not leave them orphans and would be with even two or three who would be gathered in His Name. He comes and is present in each of us when we are Baptized into His death and Resurrection and rise with him in the Sacramental reality of a second birth in the glory of membership in His Body the Church ,or as He put it as branches on the vine. He comes and is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass and in His Eucharistic presence in tabernacles around the world. He is present when we pray. All of this is possible because Jesus is God. From all of this we might ask the question: What is the function then of our celebration of the Feast of the Ascension? As our celebration of the entire Liturgical Year is a re-living and a celebration of the entire life of Jesus, and the Feast of the Ascension is a conclusion of the final stage of that life in history, so our celebration of the Feast of the Ascension is a reminder to us of the final stage of our life on earth and of our hope that we at the instant of our death would be worthy of being taken up with Him to the glory of our eternal life in Heaven. The entrance prayer at Mass for the Feast of the Ascension puts it this way: God our Father, make us joyful in the Ascension of your Son, Jesus Christ. May we follow Him into the new creation, for his ascension is our glory and our hope. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen!

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