Monday, June 2, 2014

Christ's Ascension and Ours

According to the first chapter in the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus “was lifted up” in front of his followers “and a cloud took him from their sight.” Jesus disappeared. Does this mean that Jesus is no longer “Emmanuel” or “God-with-us”?  No. Jesus remains with us in the Blessed Sacrament; he comes to us in the Eucharist.  Now we have a connection with heaven where Jesus is with the Father and yet remains close to us.  In the Ascension Jesus passes beyond space and time and is no longer limited to just one place. 

Pope Benedict XVI wrote about this mystery in the second volume of his work Jesus of Nazareth:

Christ, at the Father’s right hand, is not far away from us. At most we are far from him, but the path that joins us to one another is open. And this path is not a matter of space travel of a cosmic-geographical nature: it is the “space travel” of the heart, from the dimension of self-enclosed isolation to the new dimension of world-embracing divine love (p.286).

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus there is no distance. All are one with one another and with Jesus.  St. Paul taught that the Body of Christ is one (see 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27).  Christ is the Head and Heart of the Body. 

The Ascension of Jesus assures us that where the Head has gone, the Body will follow. 
Pope Francis uses the concrete image of mountain climbing to describe this reality:

The Ascension of Jesus into heaven acquaints us with the deeply consoling reality on our journey: Christ opened the path to us. He is like a roped guide climbing a mountain who, on reaching the summit, pulls us up to him and leads us to God. If we entrust our life to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain to be in safe hands, in the hands of our Savior, of our Advocate. Dear brothers and sisters, the Ascension does not point to Jesus’ absence, but also tells us that he is alive in our midst in a new way. He is no longer in a specific place in the world as he was before the Ascension. He is now in the lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each one of us.  In our life we are never alone: we have this Advocate who awaits us, who defends us. We are never alone: the Crucified and Risen Lord guides us.

The Ascension is one mystery with two very consoling consequences: we are never alone and in Jesus the human race has arrived in heaven.

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