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Pastor’s Corner 5.21.2023

The Ascension

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

At the Resurrection, Christ’s body was glorified, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.  For the 40 days that he appeared to his disciples the Lord’s glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.  Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory in the Ascension. 

When Jesus met Mary Magdalene on Easter morning he said, “I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” Jn. 20:17.  This indicates a difference in manifestation between the glory of the risen Christ and that of the Christ exalted to the Father’s right hand, a transition marked by the historical and transcendent event of the Ascension.

Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house,” to God’s life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn. 12:32). The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one Priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands… but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Heb. 9:24). Henceforth Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father: “By ‘the Father’s right hand’ we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was glorified” (St. John Damascene).

This a profound mystery. Jesus of Nazareth, fully a human being, flesh and blood, but also the Incarnate God, fully divine, was taken up into heaven at his Ascension. That means that human flesh, albeit glorified flesh, now dwells in the realms of heaven. Where Jesus has gone, we hope to follow. Ponder, for a moment, what that means for you and me if we die in friendship with God.

Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,